Crocodilians

 

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Caiman

 

 The largest of all living reptiles, Alligators and Crocodiles can reach weights in excess of  2,000 pounds! 

Hunted for their skins and meat, virtually all living species of Crocodilians, with the exception of the American Alligator, are in serious trouble.   Loss of habitat and unfounded fear of these important predators has also contributed to a rapid decline of many of the crocodilian species.

American Alligator Range

One of the true success stories of conservation is the American Alligator. In the early 1960's the Alligator was very close to extinction, over collection for skins had brought the ancient creature to the edge of disaster.  With government regulations in place, hunting was banned and the farming of the gator got under way in earnest.    Today the American Alligator has rebounded in such large numbers that legal hunting has been reinstated in Florida.  An estimated 2 to 2.5 million Alligators inhabit the Southern United States. 

 

 Of the 23 species of Alligators and Crocodiles on earth only two species are doing well, the vast majority are threatened, endangered or critically endangered.  Some species are beginning to show signs of a comeback, this is due in large part to protection from local governments coupled with the economic impact of farming of the crocodilian species.


 

South American Caiman   

Range: Tropical South America

Habitat: Virtually any body of fresh water, prefers slow moving streams, ponds and lakes.

Natural Diet: Fish and Mammals  occasional birds.

Diet at Rain Forest: Fish, Chicken, large rodents.

Size: 5-6' Approximately 75-150 pounds 

RainForest Facts: There are several species of Caiman in the RainForests of both Central and South America, this animal varies in size from about 5' to well over 16' for the Black Caiman.  The RainForests of the Americas provide excellent habitat and a wide variety of food for the Caiman.  Over collection for the pet trade as well as the continued hunting of the Caiman for skins has led to a serious decline in the wild population.  The Spectacled Caiman has successfully been established (an introduced species) to South Florida, probably a result of unwanted pets released into the wild.  Introduced species can have a very serious impact on native wildlife populations, most native animals cannot compete with introduced species.

Status in Wild: Appears to be stable, in fact some studies indicate this species may be extending it's range. Caiman is also one of the only crocodilians legally sold in pet shops in some states in the U.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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