Identification of crocodilians in the wild in Curacao
- 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
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.