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Identification of crocodilians in the wild in Curacao

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  • Marcus DeMaaijer
    The reply from the Herpetologists of University of Florida returned quicker than expected...!! at this page
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 4, 2005
      The reply from the Herpetologists of University of Florida returned
      quicker than expected...!!

      at this page http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/natsci/herpetology/act-plan/a-
      plan33.htm you can see a picture of an adult Spectacled caiman
      (Caiman crocodilus crocodilus)

      Spectacled Caimans are widespread throughout Central and South
      America and appear adept at surviving in a great range of different
      habitats. They are particularly abundant within some South American
      countries.

      In the Venezuelan Llanos alone, for example, where they have been
      protected, the population is estimated at some 3 to 4 million
      individuals. Four subspecies of Caiman crocodilus are recognised (G.
      c. Crocodilus, C c. Yacare, C. c. Apaporiensis and C. c. Fuscus
      Caiman) but distinguishing them from each other is by no means easy.

      Spectacled Caimans are small crocodilians, seldom exceeding 3 m in
      length. They prefer lakes, ponds, marshes and the meandering
      tributaries of rivers where the current is not fast. In areas where
      other crocodilian species (e.g. Melanosuchus niger and Crocodylus
      intermedius) have been removed or reduced in numbers, Caiman
      crocodilus has established itself.

      Populations now exist in some wetlands in Florida, US. During the
      dry season, Spectacled Caimans can congregate in large numbers in
      small pools. At such times, large caimans may prey on small ones. At
      the end of the dry season, in smaller, shallow pools, they can
      sometimes be found buried in the mud. As with the Australian
      Freshwater Crocodile, little feeding occurs during the dry season -
      this is a wet season activity.

      Caimans less than 1 m in length, feed on a variety of aquatic
      invertebrate prey, mainly crustaceans and insects. Adults also take
      snails and crustaceans, but larger prey such as deer, goats and pigs
      may also be included in the diet.

      Caiman crocodilus reaches maturity in a short time (4 years of age
      in some areas) and the females lay an average of 30 eggs in a mound
      nest. Females remain near their nests throughout incubation, but
      their role in preventing predation on the eggs is unclear -
      predation rates are greater than 80 per cent in some areas. Large
      tegu lizards are significant predators on the eggs. Most hatching
      occurs in November and females remain with their 'pod' of hatchlings
      for at least the first few weeks of life. However, if water levels
      recede greatly, females can abandon their young and set about
      finding deeper water to ensure their own survival.

      On Friday I will be in the north eastern section of the freshwater
      reservoir in an area with up to 3 feet tall grass because this is
      the most likely area for finding the remains of the nest. Don't
      worry... 3 heavily armed VKC-ers will follow in my shadow.

      Check friday night for an update.
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