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
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'.
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.
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.
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