Black Caiman

Facts about black caiman

We found 20 facts about black caiman

Melanosuchus niger

Endemic to Central and South America, the black caiman is the largest caiman species. It is closely related to alligators and easily distinguished from crocodiles. Once nearly driven to extinction, its population is now stable. The drastic drop in its population caused severe problems with animals once being preyed upon by black caimans, so it is crucial for the local ecosystem that the population of this keystone species remain stable.
Black Caiman
It is the largest species of the family Alligatoridae.
It inhabits the Amazon River basin.
It can be sighted in Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Guyana, French Guiana, Ecuador, and Colombia.
Males can reach up to 5.2 meters in length.
Females are slightly smaller, typically measuring 3 meters long.
A typical male can weigh 450 kilograms, 360 kilograms on average.
The black caiman is dark-scaled, typically black.
The coloring can vary, however, from mottled gray, and dark brown, to olive.
They have U-shaped snouts.
It makes them easily distinguished from crocodiles, which have sharper, V-shaped snouts.
They are the apex predator.
They occasionally fall prey to cougars and jaguars, and there have been cases of a coordinated attacks by giant river otters that resulted in caiman death.
They are carnivores.
They feed on anything brave enough to venture near their territory, including monkeys, cattle, giant otters, armadillos, or pythons. Sometimes they attack pink river dolphins. Young black caimans enjoy feeding on piranhas.
Black caimans can exhibit cannibalistic tendencies.
Sometimes adult black caimans eat juveniles since they are easy prey.
Its bite can shatter a turtle’s shell.
The force of black caiman bite has not yet been measured, however.
It reaches a top speed of 48 km/h.
Their lifespan in the wild is estimated at up to 80 years.
Black caimans reach sexual maturity at the age of 5 to 15.
The mating season of black caimans happens between September and December, depending on the country.
The sole reason is for the eggs to hatch at the beginning of a wet season.
Black caimans are oviparous.
Females lay up to 60 eggs per clutch every two to three years, which hatch after approximately two months. Most juveniles do not survive past the third year of age.
Juvenile black caimans have yellow stripes and spots.
Although some of the bandings remain until adulthood, most fade.
They are nocturnal.
Their skin coloration allows them to camouflage during their hunts at night.
Black caimans love the heat.
They bask in the sun, and their black scales help them absorb the heat.
They do not show particular aggression towards humans but will attack when their territory is disturbed, especially during mating season.
There have been over 80 recorded attacks on humans, most of them fatal.
Although they are listed as least concerned by the IUCN Red List, black caimans once were hunted to the brink of extinction.
Between the 1950s and 1970s, they were falling victim to excessive poaching because of the unique and valuable pattern on their skin, decreasing their population by 99%. Fortunately, their numbers were replenished.
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