Why do gharials bask in the sun?

Gharials are members of the reptile family along with crocodiles and alligators. They look similar to crocodiles but they have longer and narrower jaw lines. Gharials may also be called gavials or Indian gharials.  One characteristic behavior of gharials is to bask in the sun.  Many people see them as if they are sunbathing all the time. This behavior has also prompted many people to ask why this is a typical characteristic of this animal species.

Gharials are classified as cold-blooded animals and these types of animals don’t have an inherent thermal regulator in their bodies.  This simply means that their body temperature is dependent on their surroundings.  It’s like their bodies don’t have a built-in mechanism to adjust to the temperatures of their environment.  Being cold-blooded then requires gharials to expose their bodies to sunlight so they can warm up.  Basking for long hours in the sun is not just a regular activity but more of a survival mode because their bodies need the increased temperature for them to live well and function effectively. It’s like they depend on the external environment to help their bodies reach a healthy warm level.  The heat of the sun provides enough warmth to their bodies and so many people would see them seemingly sunbathing often.

The gharials’ basking activity is typically done in groups.  This means that most of them enjoy the heat of the sun along with other gharials.  This is typical especially for young gharials.  The young ones also keep in close contact with their mothers and other female gharials because instinct tells them so.  When these young gharials grow bigger they will also eventually be more independent.  There are also times though that some gharials prefer to be in solitary mode when basking in the sun.  For gharials, this activity is very important to them and they must be undisturbed when doing this.

 

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