You are hereDwarf Caiman, Paleosuchus ssp.

Dwarf Caiman, Paleosuchus ssp.

dwarf caimanIntroduction The Dwarf Caiman (palpebrosus and trigonatus) is considered the smallest of the crocodilians, averaging an adult size of 4-5 ft. It is distributed throughout South America, but is endangered due to habitat destruction and collection for the pet trade. It is a secretive species and tends to remain hidden if the opportunity arises. Wild adults spend most of the day in burrows and come out at night and travel overland to their watering holes. Dwarf Caiman are well-equipped to deal with fast moving water. Many adults are found in turbid streams. They are definitely nocturnal, and remain inactive during daytime hours. Reports on their temperament vary. They are regarded as generally shy but aggressive if cornered, frequently fighting with other captive individuals (i.e. very territorial). Others have found that in time they will lose much of their aggressive nature, although they never really become tame. They are being bred in captivity in small numbers.

Housing While it is more than possible to keep a hatchling Dwarf Caiman in a twenty gallon tank for a short time, it will out grow it with in a year's time. A single adult can be kept in an enclosure with a minimum dry foot print of 8 ft x 8 ft along with a 7 foot diameter stock tank for water, making the enclosure a total of 15 ft long by 8 ft from front to back. The land area for this species should be larger then the water hole as they tend to spend most of the daylight areas in a borrow on dry land.

Acclimation and Quarantine Quarantine and or acclimation enclosures need not be elaborate, instead they should be sterile and easy to clean. Appropriately sized tanks or plastic rubbermaid containers can be used. Water should be filtered and or changed frequently. Be sure to provide a heat source, a pool, and a dry spot. A hide area should be provided for additional security. This setup should be used until the caiman is feeding regularly and appears to be in good health.

Lighting and Heating You should offer your Dwarf Caiman a photo period of 12/12 to replicate their natural habitat. Day light can be provided using incandescent bulbs or fluorescent tubes, or simply natural light if the day-length is long enough. For nocturnal species such as the Dwarfs, it may be beneficial to provide a night-light as well that simulates moonlight. Dwarf caimans often spend considerable amounts of the daytime in burrows or under dense vegetation in the wild. Therefore, they receive much less UV from the sun than other crocodilians do. However, a little UV goes along way, and is sure not to hurt anything at all. Incandescent lights may also be used as a heat source. They are available in a wide selection of wattages, so the right level of heat for the basking spot can usually be found and then controlled with a thermostat as required. One may also choose to utilize ceramic heat emitters for larger enclosures. They can be used at night without emitting light that would otherwise disrupt the caiman's photoperiod. Aquarium heaters may also be used for evenly heating the water in a smaller to medium-sized enclosure. You should choose a heater that will provide 2-3 watts per gallon. The heater's thermostat should be set to keep the water between 78-82 degrees. If you choose to use a glass heater, be sure it is well protected. If the caiman breaks it, it will be electrocuted.

Feeding Dwarf Caiman will thrive on a diet that is well varied and containing whole food items. Whole food items are animals which have not been prepared, processed, cleaned, gutted etc. but rather are offered to your caiman as they were in life; whole. Readily available whole food items include rodents, poultry, fish, crustaceans, insects. Rodents consist of mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits. Poultry may consist of chicks and quail. For the fish you can offer trout, catfish and other freshwater fish as well as the common feeder goldfish. Crawfish, fresh water shrimp and fresh water crabs can be provided as well. And for insects, you may offer crickets, meal and super meal worms, silkworms, horn worms, and roaches.

These animals do NOT make good pets Caiman have extremely powerful bites. While the bite of a baby or a juvenile will be painful and unpleasant, in the end mainly your pride will be hurt. Adults are a different story however and are very capable of inflicting serious wounds that may include but are not limited to deep puncture wounds, loss of fingers and nerve and muscle damage. In the event of a serious bite, a trip to the hospital will be in order. Even with a nip, be sure to clean the wound well to prevent any infection from setting in.