The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Marsh Crocodile

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Edition of 1920. See also Mugger crocodile on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

MARSH CROCODILE, or MUGGER, the common inland crocodile of India, locally venerated by the Hindus, to whom it is known as ‘Mugger.’ It inhabits the tanks and marshes of India and Ceylon, and suitable places westward almost to the Persian coast and eastward throughout the Malay Peninsula snd islands. It is dark, olive-brown in general color above, lighter on the ventral surface; the young are paler, with black spots. A specimen 12 feet long is considered large, but instances of a length of 18 feet have been recorded. The head is rough-coated, but has no ridges; the snout is broad and the teeth number 76. These crocodiles swarm in river-marshes, weedy ponds and artificial reservoirs, throughout their range, feeding on fish and small animals, and little feared by horses, cattle or human beings, for in general they are cowardly and reluctant to attack men or even to resist injury. In case the water of their home dries away, they migrate to other pools, and in seasons of drought are likely to be met with anywhere wandering in search of water; as a last resort they will bury themselves in the mud and remain in torpor until revived by the coming of rains. These reptiles display considerable cunning in capturing their food and in avoiding harm, feigning death very cleverly. They are kept in a semi-domesticated condition in many parts of India by pious Hindus, whose priests build temples near the great ponds, protect and feed the reptiles and imagine the service pleasing to the gods as well as profitable to themselves. Extensive descriptions of the animal and of its worship may be found in the zoological works of Blanford, Jerdon, Tennent, Gadow and others and in such volumes as Adams, ‘Wanderings of a Naturalist in India’ (Edinburgh 1867) and Hornaday, ‘Two Years in the Jungle’ (New York 1885).