The reptile species is well represented in the country
of India. Infact, the subcontinent is home to as many
as 447 species of reptiles (census 1994). One can find
crocodile inhabiting the rivers, swamps and lakes of
India. Then, there is its cousin, known as gharial,
which is found in a number of Indian rivers, including
Ganges and Brahmaputra. Also included in the list of
Indian reptiles are turtles, tortoise and chameleons.
The reptiles of India constitute 6.2 percent of the
total population of reptiles in India. Out of these,
26 species have been listed as threatened in the IUCN
Red List of Threatened Animals (IUCN 2006). In the
following lines, we have provided more information
about the Indian reptiles:
There is only one species of chameleons found in the
Indian subcontinent, scientifically known as Chamaeleo
zeylanicus. The term 'chameleon' is a combination of
two Greek words, 'Chamai', meaning 'on the
ground/earth' and Leon, meaning 'lion'. Thus,
'chameleon' means 'earth lion'. The foot structure,
eyes and tongue of all the chameleons are the same.
Alligator - Gharial
Gharial crocodile counts amongst the largest crocodile
species in the world. It is also one of two surviving
members of the Gavialidae family. Ghavial Crocodiles
of India have an elongated and narrow snout, which
becomes thinner with age. There is a bulbous growth on
the tip of an adult male's snout, known as 'ghara'.
The length of a Gharial crocodile is somewhere around
5 to 6 meters. It has long and narrow jaws, which are
Crocodile - Mugger
Mugger crocodile belongs to the Crocodylidae Family
and is scientifically known as Crocodylus palustris.
Adult Mugger crocodiles of India are bright olive in
color, while the young ones are on the paler side. The
entire body is spotted with black and scaled. Outer
toes as well as fingers are webbed at the base.
Indian tortoise belongs to the Testudines Order and,
like turtles, has a shell as its protective covering.
It has both an endoskeleton as well as an exoskeleton.
The length of a tortoise varies between a few
centimeters and two meters. Infact, the growth of a
tortoise depends upon the amount of food and water it
eats. On an abundant supply of food, it may grow to
quite a large size.
Indian turtle, along with tortoise and terrapin,
belongs to the Testudines order of reptiles and the
Chelonia crown group. The body of a turtle is covered
with special bony or cartilaginous shell, which is
developed from its ribs. One of the oldest reptile
groups, the turtle of India was in existence even
before lizards and snakes. Some of the species of the
Indian turtles have become extinct, while a number of
others have become highly endangered. Turtles are
cold-blooded creatures i.e., their body temperature
changes with their surroundings. The size of an Indian
turtle tends to vary a lot, with marine turtles being
bigger than land and freshwater ones.
Indian Water Monitor lizard is one of the largest as
well as the heaviest species of lizards, second only
to the Komodo Monitors. The average length of a water
monitor is around 4 feet. Its entire upper body has
round and protruding scales and the abdomen is covered
with smooth scales. Usually drab gray or olive in
color, Water monitors of India are dotted with
circular-shaped yellow spots. The tail is quite long,
making 1/3rd of the total length. Their claws are very
sharp and the sense of smell is highly developed.