Environment, Forest and Climate Change Department,

Government of Uttar Pradesh, India

Shri. Yogi Adityanath

Hon'ble Chief Minister,Uttar Pradesh

Shri. Dara Singh Chauhan

Hon'ble Minister,Forest Department

Reptiles of Dudhwa National Park-1

Reptiles of Dudhwa National Park

There are four classes of terrestrial or land dwelling animals with backbone, the reptiles form the middle element. They have evolved from the amphibians. The history of reptiles goes back many millions of years. On the basis of fosssil evidence they are believed to have originated during Pennsylvanian period 300 to 260 million years ago. They were the dominant form of vertebrate life on earth for the following 140 to 120 million years, the Mesozoic era of earth history. This was the age of reptiles, the period when the dinosaurs flourished.

Modern reptiles, which appeared during the Tertiary period of earth history sonic 70 million years ago. Presently, the number of species of living reptiles, which is about 6000 is almost double the number of species of present day mammals.

Reptiles are cold blooded animals, means that their body temperature varies with the outside temperature whereas birds and mammals which have a constant body temperature are known as warm blooded. Reptiles have poor body insulation and cooling mechanism as they lack sweat glands yet they have considerable capacity for regulating their body temperature. Thermo-regulation in reptiles is a behaviour function and is achieved by judicious use of available sunlight.

There are three types of body form in reptiles. The basic type is the lizard like shape. The crocodiles, monitor lizards and geckos are examples of this type of boxy shape. The legs are well developed. In the second type, the body is elongated and cylindrical as in many skinks and all the snakes; legs may be rudimentary or absent. In the third type, the turtles and tortoises, the trunk has become rigid and enclosed in a bony shell. Indian reptiles range in size from the massive crocodile with lengths up to seven metre and geckos less than 10 cm in total length.

Crocodiles

Crocodiles belong to Crocodylidae family, an ancient group of reptiles in existence for millions of years. The survival of the crocodilians over a long period of earth history is perhaps due to their needs being easily met, living as they do on the edge of two life zones, water and land and being able to find their prey from both zones.

Dudhwa Tiger Reserve have two types of crocodiles - Marsh crocodile or Mugger and Ghanal. Both crocodilians show certain structural adaptations for a successful aquatic life. The nostril is placed at the tip of the snout enabling the animal to breathe when the rest of the body is submerged. The eye has a transparent third eyelid permitting limited underwater vision. Crocodilians are excellent swimmers, thetail being the main propellent.

Mugger or marsh crocodile (crocodylus palish-IS)

Mugger is found in Suheli, Mohana rivers of Dudhwa National Park and Girwa river of Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary. It attains a length up to 4 metre and weighs up to 200 kg. Mugger usually spend the day basking on the bank or islands in river. The open mouth of basking crocodiles is a method of heat control. Mugger is an excellent swimmer. On land, it rests on its belly, but walks and runs with the body well off the ground. The senses of sight, hearing and smell are well developed and the animal remains very alert while basking on land. It hunts more or less exclusivly in water; the food is largely fish but any animal that can be overcomed is preyed.

The scent glands are probably active during the breeding season and assist in the sexes locating each other. Mating takes place in the month of March. The female lays her eggs in pitcher shaped hole in sand up to 40 in a clutch. Incubation period slightly in excess of two months. The female protects the nest by lying either in the water close to the nest or nest itself It is a known fact that sex of a hatchling is determined by temprature of the nest.

Gharial(Gavialis Gangeticus)

Ghari al can attain a length of up to 7 metre. They can be easily distinguished from other crocodiles by the long and narrow snout which ends in a bulbous tip. The jaws have approximately 104 teeth. Adult male with a large pot like cartilaginous mass (ghara) on the tip of snout, hence the name Gharial. Presently it is found in Girwa river of Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary and this species is now endangered.