Caiman | The caiman is a large aquatic reptile found in the swamps and tropical rivers that cover Central and South America. Although the caimans have much narrower bodies, they are most closely related to alligators and crocodiles. Caimans are found in a variety of habitats throughout Central and South America from marshes and swamps to mangrove rivers and lakes. As with other reptiles, caimans have scaly skin and live a fairly nocturnal existence.
Caimans range in size from the dwarf caiman which measures just over a meter in length, to the black caiman which can to grow to be nearly 5 meters long. The black caiman is the largest caiman species in the world and is found in the slow-moving rivers and lakes that surround the Amazon basin. There are six different species of caiman found throughout the watery, jungle habitats of Central and Southern America. The average length for most of the other caiman species if about 2.5 meters long.
The caiman is a carnivorous predators and, like the alligator and the crocodile, the caiman has a diet that consists of a great deal of fish. The caiman also hunts insects, birds and small mammals and reptiles. Due to the large size and ferocious nature of the caiman, it has few natural predators within its environment. Humans are the main predators of the caiman as they have been hunted for their meat and skin. Jaguars are the only other predator of the caiman.
Female caimans build a large nest in which to lay their eggs, which can be more than 1.5 meters wide. Female caimans lay between 10 and 50 eggs which hatch within about 6 weeks. Once they have hatched, the mother caiman takes her young to a shallow pool of water where they can learn how to hunt and swim.