A temple in the south Indian state of Kerala boasts of housing a crocodile which is purely vegetarian. The reptile, Babiya, is said to be so tame and non-violent that temple priests take regular baths in the lake where it lives and it never harms them. Even more surprisingly, it does not even attack the fish and other aquatic creatures present, preferring to survive only on rice.
The temple, located in a small village, is said to be the epicentre of a famous Hindu pilgrim spot in India. It recently gained prominence when word about the saintly crocodile spread and people started turning up in crowds to catch a glimpse of it.
The temple authorities believe that Babiya is a messenger of their deity, Lord Padmanabhan. It is evident from their treatment of the animal, to whom they feed the prasadam twice a day, the strictly vegetarian food prepared in the honour of the temple deity.
The crocodile has been living in the temple premises for about 70 years, reports The News Minute. It spends its day in a cave and only comes out in the afternoons.
A temple staff, Chandra Prakash, has been in charge of feeding the miraculous beast every day for the last 10 years and he claims to put the ball of rice right inside the crocodile's mouth, without ever sustaining an attack or injury, according to TNM.
Crocodile experts, who identify the creature as a Muggar or marsh crocodile, say that this species primarily feed on fish and small mammals. It is very likely that Babiya feeds on the fish of the lake late at night or early evening, apart from eating the one kilogram of rice that is offered to her.
Although experts say it is very easy to tame a crocodile and condition it to its surroundings, it is highly probable that an untrained individual might suffer a sudden attack from the otherwise calm creature.
Babiya, if she is a pure vegetarian, is an example of the discrepancies in nature when animals abandon their usual feeding habits and display uncanny ones. Earlier, there have been recorded instances of herbivorous animals like cows, deer and sheep displaying an affinity for meat. Our pious crocodile seems to be their counterpoint.
Another point that has been raised about Babiya is that it is getting a safe haven to spend its days. Every animal, whether it is a messenger of God or not, deserves a protected environment to live in, especially at a time when human activities are putting hundreds of species at risk of extinction.
The Muggar crocodile, also known as the broad-snouted crocodile or marsh crocodile, is a 'Vulnerable' species, according to the IUCN Red List. They are under threat due to their skin which is used by human beings to make accessories and purses. Although crocodile-skin purses are highly priced, their value can never exceed that of the animal's life. Babiya is indeed lucky that it has people around who worship and protect it.