Pointlessly hunted for its skin
The various different species of cayman (or caiman) are native to South America, and they are found especially in the many tributaries of the Amazon. They are closely related to alligators and are very like them, except that the cayman's skin on its underside is strengthened and reinforced with bony plates or scutes, unlike the alligator's. Because of this their skins are more difficult to work with and less valuable than those of crocodiles and alligators. Nonetheless caymans are within sight of extinction since they are hunted right up into the remotest rivers of the Amazon basin.|
The six known species differ from each other in size and in their way of life. The smallest of them is the dwarf cayman, the maximum length of which is 5½ feet whereas the black cayman can be up to 16 feet in length.
|The species shown above is the Caiman crocodilus yacare, sometimes known as the 'jacare', which lives in the rivers of central Brazil, its area of distribution extending southwards into Argentina.|
The cayman seems more lively than all other members of the Crocodilia order put together. Although it spends most of its time lazing on a sandy bank it can show surprising agility when it comes to taking flight or catching its prey. Its diet consists mainly of fish which it seizes under water, but it will also eat small mammals and birds when it has a chance to catch them, killing its victims by drowning them. In captivity the cayman often proves aggressive, biting without provocation. When in rut adult caymans roar loudly and fight one another fiercely.
Incubation: very variable
|Number of eggs: 12 to 35|
Young grow very quickly
|Details of development not known|
Maximum length: 2.50 m (8 ft)
|Genus and species:|
Caiman crocodilus yacare
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