Caiman Lizard

page header

Range
Primarily Amazonian- found in Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, & Peru

Habitat
semi-aquatic; found along rainforest rivers, streams, and swamps

Distinguishing Characteristics
Large lizards that can be more than 39 inches long (nose to tail tip). They have large, blunt heads with red coloring. The dorsal (back) surface has enlarged scales that resemble crocodile scutes. The tail is laterally compressed with two rows or crest-like scales.

Dietary Classification
Diet in the Zoo: rat pinkies, smelt, snails, & shrimp

Diet in the Wild: Primarily large freshwater snails. The caiman lizard has specialized molariform teeth for crushing this hard prey item.

Behavior/Adaptations
Caiman lizards are semi-aquatic and can often be found swimming in the water. They generally bask on the banks of pools and water courses.
Skins are valued by the exotic leather trade for making boots and other fashion accessories.
Named for the enlarged dorsal scales on their backs that resemble crocodile skin.

Status
Not threatened