yacare caiman

That toothy grin might make you think this is a crocodile or an alligator. But the Yacaré caiman is neither. Caimans are closely related to alligators, but you won’t run into one in a Louisiana swamp. Caimans live in South America. All six types of caiman are protected, which means that they may disappear from the planet forever unless we help them.

Scientific name: Caiman yacare
Size: 8 to 9 feet long
Habitat: rivers, lakes, and wetlands of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay
Diet: snails, water snakes, fish
Characteristics: crocodile-like reptile that has bony scales on its belly
Significance: Due to habitat loss and over hunting, the caiman is a protected species

Image credits: main image: courtesy of Santos Breyer, the Crocodilian Photo Gallery; George Amato: courtesy of Denis Finnin.