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False Gharial - Tomistoma schlegelii : WAZA : World Association of Zoos and Aquariums

False Gharial

(Tomistoma schlegelii)




Facts about this animal

The False Gavial has an extremely long snout, passing over gradually into the brain part of the skull (in contrast to the true gavial, Gavialis gangeticus), about 3 to 4.5 times as long as broad at the level of the front corners of the eyes. There are no elevated ridges in front of the eyes. The colour of the upper body surface in adults is reddish brown, with dark blotches and crossbands, especially on the tail; juveniles are speckled with black. The lower surface is uniformly light, without dark blotches. The iris is yellowish brown. It can grow up to 5.6 m, but is usually about 3.6 m.

Did you know?
that "Tomistoma", the scientific name for the false gharial, means "sharp mouth" in Greek? Similarly to the true gharial, the false gharial has a long, slender snout with a total number of 76-84 teeth.


Name (Scientific) Tomistoma schlegelii
Name (English) False Gharial
Name (French) Faux-gavial malais
Name (German) Sunda-Gavial
Name (Spanish) Falso gavial malayo
Local names Bahasa: Buaya sepit
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Fritz Geller-Grimm



Range Indonesia, Malaysia
Habitat Lakes, rivers and swamps
Wild population Approx. < 2'500
Zoo population 67 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo

False Gharial


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 42 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Terence Ong

Why do zoos keep this animal

The habitat of this large crocodilian, the peat swamp forests are as threatened as the species itself. Tomistoma schlegelii could therefore be exhibited as an impressive ambassador of this threatened type of habitat. An internationally coordinated conservation breeding program is planned. Continental conservation breeding programs exist already.