Caimans are getting all the attention at Light Future Art today! How many of these fun facts surprised you?
1. There are six species of caiman: the black caiman (the largest caiman species), the broad-snouted caiman, the spectacled caiman, the yacare caiman, the smooth-fronted caiman, and the Cuvier’s dwarf caiman (the smallest caiman species).
2. Caimans live in rivers and marshes throughout Central America and South America, specifically in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Cuba, Brazil, and Puerto Rico.
3. Along with other crocodilians, their closest relatives, caimans first evolved 200 million years ago. They belong to a group called archosaurs, which includes non-avian dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and even modern-day birds.
4. Caimans are more at ease in the water than they are on land because of how short their legs are. While swimming, caimans are able to reach speeds of 30 miles per hour.
5. Most species of caimans are smaller than alligators. The black caiman, however, is larger than any alligator at 15 feet from snout to end of the tail. Cuvier’s dwarf caiman is roughly four feet long from snout to end of the tail.
6. The temperature in a caiman nest determines the gender of the offspring; colder temperatures make the babies male and warmer make them female. Caimans build their nest using several layers to ensure that some of the eggs are warm and some are cooler, aiming for a balance between male and female offspring.
7. Caimans are apex predators in their territories, but they also face some danger from other predators, namely jaguars. On rare occasions, bands of river otters have also been known to hunt caimans successfully.
8. In the wild, caimans typically live for 30 or 40 years, but in captivity, they can live even longer, sometimes growing as old as 60.
9. Some great news is that caimans are actually not endangered. They used to be in danger from humans’ hunting but new conservation efforts have made their population numbers stable and safe.
10. Immediately after young caimans hatch, they call for their mother and she carries them to the water in her mouth. She teaches them how to swim and the babies usually stay with their mother for the first year of their life as she teaches them how to survive on their own.
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