Population In Wild: 4,000,000
The spectacled caiman (or Caiman crocodilus) is a mid-size crocodilian that lives in the wetlands, savannahs and forests of Central and Southern America. Spectacled caimans may be green, brown, yellow or grey in color, with banded markings along the tail and body. They are named for the distinctive bony ridge running between their eyes, giving them the appearance of wearing spectacles. The body of the spectacled caiman is slender, with further raised ridges of scales down their back. Males of this species measure 5ft to 6.6ft in length on average, though can grow over 8.25ft long with age, and weigh between 28.6lb to 88lb. Females are smaller, measuring 3.6ft to 4.6ft in length on average, up to 6.6ft for larger and older specimens, and weigh between 15.4lb and 66lb.
Spectacled caimans are not endangered and categorized as a species of least concern. Though they may be hunted for their skin, the global population is not affected by this, and due to their adaptability and range, are also not threatened by habitat loss.
Spectacled caimans are generally solitary animals but may live in loose groups and tolerate other individuals provided there is enough space. Males will however be aggressive towards each other during mating season.
In spectacled caimans, breeding season occurs during the wet season from May to August. Territorial males will allow females to live on their territory, but will aggressively chase off other males. Males may roar to attract females and intimidate rivals. If a female on his territory is receptive, he will initiate a courtship ritual, which consists of both rubbing their backs, vocalizing, circling and blowing bubbles at each other. To mate, he will grasp the female and align their cloacas.
After mating, the female builds a nest out of mud and sticks on the male's territory, which will be ca. 3.3ft wide and 16in deep. She will lay a clutch containing between 14 and 40 eggs, but typically averaging around 20 eggs. The nest will be covered by vegetation to incubate the eggs, while the female, and rarely also the male, will guard them. Eggs begin to hatch after around 3 months. Hatchlings call their mother's attention by producing high-pitched cries, which prompts her to remove the vegetation from the top of the nest to assist them. The hatchlings will remain close to their mother for the first 18 months of their lives, where she will watch them closely for protection, however they will hunt their own food. Past this period, she will begin being aggressive towards her offspring, to encourage them to disperse and find territory elsewhere.
Spectacled caimans reach sexual maturity between 4 to 7 years old, usually at a length of 14.6ft for males and 4ft for females. Male caimans are more likely to secure a mate when they are larger, so may not immediately mate after reaching maturity.
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Spectacled Caiman doesn't benefit from sharing space with other species.
- In long periods of drought, spectacled caimans nay hibernate in the mud until environmental conditions improve again.
- The eyes of the spectcaled caiman reflect red in low light.
- When crocodile numbers in South America declined, spectacled caimans were hunted for their skin for leather production; although the skin of spectcaled caiman is very bony and as such less desirable for commercial use.
- Spectacled caimans mainly feed on fish, crustaceans and molluscs, though seem to also consume plant matter as part of their diet.
- Spectacled caimans have few predators due to their size and role in their ecosystem. Humans, jaguars or other adult caimans are usually the only predators capable of killing an adult spectacled caiman.
- The Spectacled Caiman was indirectly revealed during the Special Spa Day Live Stream.