General

Caiman

posted: 04/29/14
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Caiman
Ewa Studio/Thinkstock

Allow me to introduce Myself: I'm a Caiman!

Where You'll Most Likely Find Me: Rivers, swamps, marshes and other bodies of water in Mexico, Central and South America

What I Like to Eat: We are carnivores and love to dine on fish, birds, insects and other small animals

Betcha Didn't Know This About Me: When our cousin, the American alligator, became a protected species, scores of spectacled caimans were imported into the United States and sold to pet owners. Dwarf caimans typically sell for about $300 each.

Size: Like many reptiles, we have scaly skin and are nocturnal. Our bodies are much narrower than alligators and crocodiles. Most people are not scarred of the Dwarf caimans while the black caimans are large enough to present a serious threat to local people invading our habitat.

Mother Hen: The female caimans lay between 10 and 50 lay hard-shelled eggs by the edges of rivers in nests that they built. They protect these eggs from potential predators until they hatch. When the young caimans are born, the mothers immediately take them to the water where she teaches them how to swim and hunt for food.

Don't be fooled. We are way more aggressive than alligators and crocodiles. And just them, we have been around for millions of years. People often say we have a sinister look about ourselves, even calling us mean. And, they are right. We prefer not to roam alone so when you see one of us, there's a strong chance our friends are nearby.

Predators: Jaguars and humans who hunt us for our meat and skin are our predators. Because of our size and aggression, we don't have too many other natural predators. We were hunted so much by humans that we almost became extinct in the Brazilian Amazon.

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