No, the above shown crocodile is not trying to intimidate me! I think it’s sleeping with its mouth open. I have seen crocodiles in this pose, even at the Guindy snake park. Anyway, today let us learn more about crocodiles and a few other reptiles that are kept at the Madras Crocodile Bank (Crocodile park) @ ECR (probably 10 KM before Mahabalipuram).
The Madras Crocodile Bank (MCB) is open from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM every day, except Mondays. The entrance fee for adults is Rs. 35/-, an additional 20 rupees is charged for still camera. Have a look at a short Youtube video introduction (made by MCB), below -
Thinking about crocodiles will instill fear in us. I guess even lions and hippos are afraid of large crocodiles as they have the most powerful bite among any reptile on earth. But reptiles like crocodiles, snakes, turtles, etc. are all a part of the closely interconnected ecosystem we have on earth. Every creature plays its part and we are all interdependent, one way or other. By mindlessly killing reptiles (for commercial purposes), we are only getting a step closer to the complete destruction of this planet. For one, we could stop buying luxury goods made of animal skins. Only insensitive people will buy such things.
It seems the Madras Crocodile bank is involved in conservation of reptiles. Of course, this is a reptile zoo, but they also re-release crocodiles/reptiles back into the wild, almost throughout India. The atmosphere here is quite positive and the enclosures are big, closely resembling natural habitat of these animals. That is a huge step forward, but zoo’s should come forward to create even larger free-to-roam enclosures for such animals and we could go in locked jeeps/vans to see them safely. I prefer national parks/safaris to zoo’s.
Crocodiles lay-eggs to reproduce and their eggs are stored in nest-holes (in land) for 60-110 days, before hatching. The temperature of incubation determines the sex of the off-springs (mostly). They lay many eggs at the same time. Different species of crocodiles are found in/near both salt-water and fresh-water ecosystems.
Alligators can stay under water for over six hours without coming up for air. They can jump. In fact, they stay under-water and jump suddenly when an animal like deer comes to drink water. They catch the animal with their jaws and drag it into water. They also eat fishes, etc. Muggers and Gharials are two commonly found crocodile species in India.
The crocodile in the above photo is Jaws III. It seems, this is the largest captive crocodile in India and their species can grow up to 7 meters and weigh more than 1000 Kgs! Have a look at this video (taken by some visitor to MCB) to get a better glimpse of this crocodile and see how it is fed. Looks like workers there casually feed crocodiles! If you go, don’t try silly things like sitting on the brick fence, extending your hands to feed popcorn to the crocodiles, etc. At least, as long as you want your body parts to be intact in your body!
Apart from crocodiles/alligators, they also have turtles and tortoises. This one is the Aldabra giant tortoise that is only found in a group of coral islands in Eastern coast of Africa. It seems, this is the second largest tortoise species in the world (after Galapagos tortoise). Fully grown Aldabra tortoises have large shells (5 feet in length), weigh 225 Kgs and live for 80-90 years! This park also has a snake venom extraction unit.
The latest addition is – Green & Yellow ANACONDA’s (click to see). It seems, they have been kept on public display from 19th Jan 2013 (according to their site), but I went there before that date. Unlike what we think, anaconda’s cannot grow to 40-50 feet (as shown in some movies). They are not even the largest snake on earth, as largest anacondas can grow only up to 16-20 feet (max). A variety of python can grow longer than that.
When I opened the above wooden window, there was a mirror inside. The management has a sense of humor. Or shall we say, satire? They have a croc shop that sells crocodile memorabilia like t-shirts, post cards, etc. They also allow you to adopt reptiles. Don’t let your imagination sway – you cannot take that Jaws III to your home and cuddle it or anything You can pay for their upkeep, feed the reptile occasionally (under supervision), proudly display a certificate and stay safe