The Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus), is a carnivorous reptile that inhabits various types of rivers and freshwater lakes in southern Mexico, Central America and northwestern South America.
The habitat of the Spectacled Caiman is associated with the different formations of water from large rivers to fish ponds near urban areas, making it often a problem species.
The Spectacled caiman feral population is considered the main threat to the Cuban Crocodile in the Isla de la Juventud in Cuba, and blamed for the decline of that crocodile species. The Spectacled Caiman is distributed in the northern basins of the Orinoco and Amazon and also in central-western Brazil in the basin of the Araguaia and Tocantins.
In Brazil was named "jacaretinga" because of its white torso ("tinga" means "white" in the Tupi language). Males grow to between 1.8 and 2.5 m in length and females to 1.4 m. The juveniles are yellow with dark streaks and spots on the body and tail. As they grow, they lose their yellowish color and the markings become less distinct. Adults are olive green.
This species has a special feature that gives him a limited ability to change color, metachrosis, they can change the distribution of black pigment in their skin. The status of Caiman crocodilus is not well known for its wide distribution of the species in South America, it is one of the least studied species in Brazil. It is most common among all Brazilian crocodilian, although some local populations are small.
Spectacled Caiman - Diet
The young feed on a wide variety of aquatic invertebrates (insects, crustaceans and mollusks). As they grow, various vertebrates take a large percentage of their diet (fish, amphibians, reptiles including anacondas, waterfowl and small mammals). He is known for keeping control over the number of piranhas.
Spectacled Caiman - Reproduction
Females reach sexual maturity at 1.2 m, which can be 4 to 7 years. The courtship and mating usually occurs between May and August. The number of eggs per nest ranges from 14 to 40, with an average of 22 eggs deposited during the dry season.
The chicks hatch after 90 days. A single female takes care of several different groups of juveniles, their own and from other females.
Spectacled Caiman - Conservation status and major threats
The Spectacled caiman is one of the most common of all crocodilians, however their numbers have been depleted in some areas. The estimated wild population for the spectacled caiman is over 1 million and it is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
The Spectacled caiman actually benefited from the depletion of other crocodilian species within its range like the the American crocodile, Orinoco crocodile and Black caiman. This allowed the species to take over some new habitats, from which it was normally out competed by the other crocodilians.
Despite the intense hunting and also collection for the pet trade, the Spectacled caiman population is in a relatively good condition in the vast majority of their range. There are some well developed sustainable use programs, in several countries of their range.
The species is harvested in the wild, and currently supplies most of the crocodile skin market in the Americas.
Facts about crocodiles for kids
American alligator facts
Freshwater crocodile facts
Crocodiles vs alligators
Did you know?
The chinese alligator is critically endangered with fewer than 200 remaining in the wild.