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112

yacare caiman

OLogy Series
animal
card
112

yacare caiman

OLogy Series
animal

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.

Why is the Yacaré caiman a protected species?

Its habitats are being destroyed.

It is heavily hunted for its skin.

Both A and B

Are you right?

Correct!

There used to be plenty of Yacaré caiman in South America. Then in the 1970’s and 1980’s, their numbers dropped because of habitat loss and over hunting.

George Amato

By protecting habitats and controlling illegal hunting, we should be able to save caiman as an important part of biodiversity.

Anacondas, enormous South American snakes, sometimes eat adult caimans.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

The anaconda is able to unhinge its jaws and fit large prey, such as caimans, in its mouth.

Despite its jagged teeth, the Yacaré caiman’s favorite food is bananas.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Its teeth don’t lie. The Yacaré caiman is a full-fledged carnivore. Its meals include swimming animals like snails, fish, and water snakes.

Yacaré caiman
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: courtesy of Santos Breyer, the Crocodilian Photo Gallery; George Amato: courtesy of Denis Finnin.