What Is a Dwarf Caiman Alligator?


Quick Answer

A dwarf caiman, or Paleosuchus palpebrosus, is the smallest crocodilian species on Earth. It grows up to 4.5 feet in length and weighs approximately 15 pounds. This species is found in the Orinoco and Amazon River basins in South America and prefers cooler waters compared to other caimans. The dwarf caiman is also known as Cuvier's smooth-fronted caiman.

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Full Answer

Adult dwarf caimans hunt at night and bask in the sun during the day. These creatures like to eat frogs, snails, fish, small mammals and insects. However, when their main food supply is scarce, dwarf caimans eat whatever is available.

Dwarf caimans hatch from eggs and take 10 years to reach full maturity. Their lifespan in the wild reaches 40 years, with captive specimens living longer. Dwarf caimans, unlike other crocodilian species, live alone or in pairs. Some dwarf caimans migrate long distances when competing for resources with dominant males.

Females lay between 10 and 25 eggs in nests made of dirt, mud, sticks, leaves and vegetation. Nests are built by both parents, but the female fiercely guards the eggs once she lays them. Hatchlings look just like adult specimens, but they are smaller in size. Females care for their babies for a few weeks before the younger dwarf caimans disperse.

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