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Cuvier’s Dwarf Caimans

10 Facts About These Cool Crocodilians

Friday, September 07, 2018 written and photographed by Mika Miller

Have you seen our Cuvier’s Dwarf caimans? They are sometimes difficult to spot as they rest most of their body below water, leaving only their eyes above. Here are 10 fun facts about these crocodilians.

1. The dwarf caiman is the smallest member of the crocodilian family, growing to be about four to five feet in length.


2. There are six species of caimans: Cuvier’s dwarf caiman, Spectacled caiman, Yacare caiman, Broad-snouted caiman, Smooth-fronted caiman, and Black caiman.


3. The teeth of dwarf caimans are often used as amulets. Some cultures believe that this provides protection from snake bites.


4. Caimans are not crocodiles or alligators. Though they belong to the same order, Crocodilia, as crocodiles and alligators, caimans are their own species.


5. Other common names for this species are musky caiman and wedge-head caiman.


6. When swimming, caimans propel themselves forward by using their large tails.


7. Cuvier’s dwarf caimans are ambush predators. They remain motionless and wait for their prey to come within striking distance.


8. Temperature differences in a caiman’s nest can determine the gender of the hatchlings. Colder temperatures produce more females while warmer temperatures produce more males.


9. Under human care, dwarf caimans can live up to 60 years!


10. Cuvier’s dwarf caimans can swim at a speed of 30 miles per hour.


Discover our two Cuvier’s dwarf caimans in our Journey to South America hall.

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