Monday, January 23, 2017

Cuiver’s Dwarf Caiman, Paleosuchus palpebrosus

The Dwarf Caiman has males that are slightly larger than females (1.3-1.5 m); females reach about 1.2 m. They are distributed in northern and central South America from Trinidad southward to Paraguay. The Dwarf Caiman tends to use fast-moving streams in forested habitats that are cooler than stream in more open habitat,. The streams may be shared with the Spectacled Caiman. The Dwarf caiman is more terrestrial than the Spectacled Caiman, and can be observed sitting on the shoreline and using burrows. Dwarf Caimans are nocturnal hunters. Juveniles feed on insects, mollusks, crustaceans, fish frogs and their tadpoles. Adults have a similar diet but include small mammals. Their gizzard contains gastroliths (small stones) which mechanically break down the food into smaller pieces. On the mainland nesting occurs at the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season in areas with warm climates. Clutches of 10-25 eggs are deposited in a nest made of soil, leaves, small branches, and other vegetation; and  constructed by both parents. The nest is usually small in diameter and height. Incubation is about 90 days. Parental care is minimal or absent until the nest is opened by the female when the young start to vocalize. After hatching the young stay under the nesting material for several days. Sexual maturity is reached at 1.1 meters in males and about one meter in females. These sizes are reached at about 10 years of age. Dwarf Caimans are social, and while they are sometimes solitary they may be found in pairs or small groups. Like other crocodilians, they communicate with sound, posture, movement, chemicals, and contact. Dominance hierarchies form within groups. Dominant individuals have access to mates, nest sites, food, and living space. Dominance is maintained by social signals and displays. Predators of these small crocodilians include cats, raptors, wading birds, snakes, and large fish. Conservation Status. The IUCN considers it a species of Least Concern, while CITES has listed it on Appendix II. This species was only recently discovered in south-central Trinidad.

Ali SH, Rampersad-Ali N, Murphy JC. 2016. The discovery of Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman, Paleosuchus palpebrosus (Reptilia: Alligatoridae) in Trinidad. Living World, Journal of the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists' Club. 2016 Nov 30.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for writing about Cuvier's Dwarf Crocodile. My wife and I love it!!! :-)

    By the way, what do you think is the best way to completely stop people from exploiting the skin of Crocodile? It's something that I get asked quite a lot from my own blog's readers ( and I would love to know what you might think of it!

    Kenny Wong