The Black caiman (Melanosuchus niger) is distributed primarily throughout the Amazon Basin, including Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and some areas of Guiana and French Guiana.
In Brazil, the black caiman, have been observed lately in the states of Mato Grosso, Rondonia ,Amapá, and Pará, Amazonas, Goias and Tocantins. It is extremely abundant in the floodplains, being more demanding in terms of habitat quality.
The Black Caiman has primarily nocturnal hunting habits and show more propensity for land hunting activity. It features a dark color, which gives it its name, that is believed to serve as camouflage. They feature big eyes and narrow snout and have a highly refined vision and hearing.
This species can reach up to 6 meters (20 ft) in total length making it the largest member of the Alligatoridae family and the largest predator in the Amazon's basin. Due to their large size they are considered capable of injuring or even kill humans.
Black Caiman - Diet
Adults feed on fish (catfish and piranha fish), birds, turtles and aquatic mammals such as the capybara. Young individuals feed on crustaceans or insects. Larger individuals also kill domestic animals, tapirs, anacondas, jaguars and pumas.
Black Caiman - Reproduction
The Black caiman females only breed every 2 or 3 years, and it's common to find several females nesting close to each other. Mating occurs in water. The posture is carried out on the shores of lakes, in the marginal vegetation.
Females build nests of about 1.5 m in diameter during the dry season, containing 30 to 65 eggs. Hatching occurs between 42 to 90 days, coinciding with the beginning of the wet season. The offspring will be protected by the mother for several months.
Black Caiman - Conservation status and major threats
The Black Caiman was reclassified as having "low risk" of biological extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources - IUCN (the 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species).
Studies conducted over the past ten years in the Brazilian Amazon neighboring countries indicated that populations of this species are in good condition in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana and Peru. There are an estimated 25,000 to 50,000 individuals in the wild.
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