Wild Things: The Not-So-Friendly Caiman
Talk about evil looking reptiles. They have these large, yellow glaring eyes with sideways eyelids. And there's no leader in this pack - if you happen across a caiman he probably won't be alone. Can you imagine all those yellow eyes on you at once - talk about freaky!
Over the Hill
Caimans can be found hiding in marshes. Their camouflage body makes it easy to hide in muddy waters. There are five species of caimans including the dwarf caiman and the spectacled caiman - named because it looks like it is wearing spectacles (glasses). Although the caiman's scientific name is caiman crocodilus, it is actually more closely related to the alligator than to the crocodile. Go figure. Actually, they're all related as caimans, crocodiles, alligators and gharials are all members of the crocodilian species. Once upon a time they lived with the dinosaurs and were able to adapt to Earth's changes and survive, although they've gone through several physical changes.
They can be seen grazing in still waters or munching on fish or water birds in Brazil, Colombia, Guana, Mexico and Peru. Unlike alligators, caimans are a relatively small animal, although some grow to eight feet. Don't let size fool you. These guys have sharp teeth and aren't too friendly so keep your distance. When hungry enough they have been known to scarf down wild pigs or even each other!
During July and August females will lay eggs usually under cover on a mound of soil and vegetation. Most of the time females stay with the eggs, to protect them from being a meal for large lizards. The caiman is a hunted animal and its hide is sold on the market in America. Leather from this species is often passed off as alligator or lizard. For more info on these scary looking beasts head to crocodilian.com.
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