A “vegetarian” mugger crocodile, who loved eating rice, died at the age of 75 in the southwestern Indian state of Kerala on Sunday.
The female crocodile named Babiya was regarded by locals as the guardian of a temple located in Ananthpura village in the Kasaragod district. People from all over the country visited the temple to see the crocodile who used to eat vegetarian food fed by the priests, Times Now reported.
Temple devotees also paid floral tributes to Babiya after her death.
“Most of the time she appears when we call her name. In the last few days, she did not surface when we called out for her with her daily feed. The death happened yesterday (October 9), the reason is unknown,” a temple official told The News Minute.
According to locals, the friendly crocodile ate temple food (prasad), comprising cooked rice and jaggery, which was offered to the animal every day.
“The priest feeds Babiya twice a day. At times, he puts the rice ball right into its mouth. The priest has a unique chemistry with Babiya,” a temple employee said back in 2020.
Interestingly, temple officials and other local residents also never found out how the crocodile came to the temple pond in the first place. The reptile was living in the pond for over 70 years and never displayed any wild behavior or harmed any temple official or visitor. It was never fed meat by anyone and never attacked the fish in the pond.
“The temple pond has enough fish and we believe it never attacks or consumes them. It is a fully vegetarian crocodile keeping with the tradition of the ancient temple,” the employee added.
According to wildlife experts, Babiya was a mugger crocodile, which, in its natural habitat, usually prey on fish, rodents, and reptiles.
“This is a Mugger crocodile and their natural wild diet primarily are fishes. They also feed on small and large mammals, like deer, wild boar, etc.,” Anirban Chaudhuri, a crocodile expert, told the outlet. “Given a choice, a crocodile would always go for its natural diet, but it is also important to understand that they are great survivors and are known to be hardy animals.”