Several species of Indian and African crocodiles and alligators bred in captivity are kept
here in open pools. Visitors can view the reptiles from close but safe proximity. There is
also a small snake farm here that conducts demonstrations of venom extraction.
are left in their natural surroundings in open pools. It is run by Romulve Whittaker. The
Crocodile Bank occupies an area of 3.2 hectares and has been established with an aim to protect
and conserve the endangered reptiles. About 5,000 species are kept in their natural surroundings
in open pools.
Tourists in large numbers visit this place to see a variety of reptiles, all in
one place. This farm breeds crocodile to augment the crocodile population of the wildlife
sanctuaries. The emerald green canopy of lush tropical vegetation provides ample shade both to
the thousands of crocodilians that lie on the water-banks with their jaws wide open as well as
to the curious onlookers. As you walk into this crocodile conservation centre, the atmosphere
at once feels riverine. There is a faint smell of fish and moss in the damp air. And you may
hear the sound of a creature splashing into the water or of the young jostling for crabs fed
to them in their enclosures. Down in the pens, you see thousands of juveniles lying cheek by
jowl, basking in the sun by the water tanks. The Age of the Reptiles, which occurred over two
million years ago, is not a thing of the past, but it is a real moment any time at the Madras
Started in 1976 with just twenty-five reptiles, the Bank today faces a
crocodile population explosion (mainly the Mugger) with over 7,000 inmates. A countrywide
crocodile conservation programme was launched to save these ancient reptiles that have survived
the passing of dinosaurs. The Bank today has about seven crocodilian species including the
three Indian types. The Indian species include the 3.6 metre long Marsh/Mugger variety which
is the most widely distributed species once found in all lowland water systems including the
arid State of Rajasthan; the four to five metre long Gharials, the crocodile with the longest
jaw which has a pot like snout; and the largest of reptiles, the Saltwater crocodiles, eight
metres long and 900 kilogrammes in weight, found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the
Sunderbans in West Bengal and in coastal Orissa. There are 25 species of crocodiles in the
world. The species found here other than the Indian varieties have been donated by foreign
zoos and croc farms. They are: Morlet's crocodile from Mexico, the Spectacled Caimen from S
outh America, Nile and the Dwarf crocodile from Africa, Siamese crocodile and the American
The Bank is neatly divided into two rows of pens, which include nurseries and
breeding pits. Signboards posted at the head of enclosures provide visitors interesting facts.
The Saltwater crocodiles, the only crocodiles dangerous to humans known to attack and eat
humans, are powerful swimmers. This is the only species to stay in sea for a long time.
Although crocodiles are among the unloved creatures of the wilderness, they are known to
perform a significant ecological role. As predators and scavengers, they help to raise the
genetic quality of prey by selective feeding on the sick, weak and injured fish. Their presence
is also known to increase river and lack productivity as they feed on predators of commercially
The Crocodile Bank, which disseminates scientific information collected from its
on-going research projects on the biology of crocodiles, also conducts research on turtles and
monitor lizards (the crocodile's environmental partners) found in common habitats. Captive
breeding of crocodiles for the purpose of releasing them in the wild and restocking protected
sites has been undertaken in river Chambal, Mahanadi and in Andhra Pradesh. But releasing them
in unprotected sites is not viable. Only in places like the Madras Crocodile Bank have these
earliest of reptiles found their guarantee for survival.
It is 42 kms towards Mahabalipuram.