Species group: Alligators and Caimans (Crocodilians)
Other common names: Wedge headed Dwarf Caiman; Schneider's Smooth-fronted Caiman; Schneider's Dwarf Caiman
Scientific name: Paleosuchus trigonatus
The Smooth-fronted Caiman is widely distributed within the Amazon River basin of South America. It is the second smallest species of the Alligatoridae family, with males reaching 1.7 and 2.3 meters (5.5 to 7.5 feet).
Appearance / health:
The Smooth-fronted Caiman is called "smooth-fronted" because it lacks the bony ridge typically seen between the eyes of other Caimans. It is dark gray to black, with highly ridged dorsal scales and a tail that is barely as long as the body. It is a heavily armored species and has extensive plating around the neck region.
Behavior / temperament:
The Smooth-fronted Caiman is known to be aggressive.
Smooth-fronted Caiman rarely bask and prefer to remain hidden during daylight hours. They become active at night.
The smooth fronted Caiman will feed on fish, rodents, beef and chicken.
Creat Little Crocodilians - for Zoos!
Based upon a lifetime of working with caimans and other crocodilians in zoos and the wild, my best advice to those who would like to keep these most fascinating reptiles as pets is “do not”! While there’s no denying that they are highly intelligent, socially complex and able to respond (in some ways) to their keepers, dwarf caimans rarely adjust well to captivity – individuals under my care in a huge zoo exhibit remained high-strung and aggressive despite 40+ years under ideal conditions! That being said, dwarf caimans are the most manageable of the group, size-wise, and some very well-experienced (and well-heeled, given their needs!) keepers have had some success with long term care. However, they can in no way ever be considered “tame”, as might a domesticated mammal, and YouTube videos and such to the contrary should be ignored.
Of course, the practical considerations involved in keeping a 5-foot-long, aquatic reptile in anything but an enclosed outdoor swamp will (or should!) dissuade most potential owners. Unfortunately, hatchlings that fit into 50 gallon aquariums are sold (illegally in many areas), and they can be hard to resist. Please do not be tempted – even on poor diets, they grow at astonishing rates, and no matter how special you might consider your pet to be, no zoo or nature center will accept one, and release is unethical and illegal, even within their range.
Caimans are quite easy to observe and study in many zoos and, as to several species, throughout much of their natural range – please limit your crocodilian interactions to those activities!.
From findiviglio Nov 25 2015 3:49PM