If you are wandering if we are talking about an alligator, let’s be clear: Yes, we are. Crocodiles and alligators are always seen as these huge beasts, devouring everything in their way. And although it is true of most of them, it is not the case with a dwarf caiman. This is a small alligator species that is perfect to adopt, if you are into reptiles. You’ll be sure to impress your friends! Now, here is what you should know about the dwarf crocodile pet.
The Pet Caiman: A Small Alligator Species
If you have had the chance to visit the everglades in Florida or another swamp where alligators live, you were probably surprise to see most of them bathing in the sun, eyes closed, unmoving. That is because they need to warm up during the days, since they are cold-blooded. However, they are not all sleeping and you probably witnessed those eyes, breaking the surface, looking at you in the boat as if you were going to be his next dinner.
Alligators can definitely be quite scary, when you see them live. Bit most of these tours end with the possibility of taking a small one in your hands. The feeling is strange, because they are so cold, but you immediately feel the life and, like everything small, you get attached to it. The dwarf caiman is the smallest alligator that exists today, or at least that we know of. Whereas regular alligators will grow to become about 4 meters long and weigh slightly more or less than a ton, these pygmy alligator pet won’t reach 1.5M and will weigh less than 7kg. We are far from the terrifying monsters we meet in horror movies or even the ones we see in documentaries that jump out of the water to catch their prey and bring them under water, drowning them before they become their next dinner.
The Dwarf Caiman’s Environment
The dwarf caiman lives in Central and South America. It prefers wooded areas where there are many water beds. That way, it can rest on the ground and go fishing for its prey. It is normally found in regions afflicted by the monsoon and tropical areas that receive a lot of rain throughout the year. You can find them in these countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador, Guyana, French Guiana, Peru, Paraguay, Venezuela and Suriname.
Marshy areas are the caiman dwarf’s favourite terrain, although it thrives well also on dry land. It lives in cool water as well as in warm ones. It shows a great capacity to adapt, and for that reason, the small alligator species is still doing well today.
The Men who Discovered and made Famous the “Paleosuchus Palpebrosus”
The dwarf caiman’s scientific name is Paleosuchus palpebrosus, but it is also known as Cuvier’s caiman. He takes this name from the French zoologist Georges Cuvier, who discovered the species in 1807. However, he is not the man who gave them their notoriety and turned them into home pets. That feat belongs to Shaun Foggett and his TV series “Croc Man.” Before him, the idea of a pet caiman did not occur to anyone.
However, Shaun Foggett was a peculiar man whose interest in alligators and crocodiles, changed the destiny of dwarf caimans forever. He didn’t mean particularly mean to do this, as it is his life’s lessons that rendered the species popular; not preaching. In his show on British television, Foggett bred 24 caiman crocodiles. It all started when he gave vitamins to the genitors, to render them stronger. When the female laid eggs, Foggett picked them up from beneath the ground and placed them in an incubator, at 30 degrees Celsius, keeping them there for three months. Once they hatched, he fed the babies, first with insects (locusts and crickets) and then with small rodents and chicken.
That took place in 2012, but before that, Foggett had been in love with reptiles since he was 15 years old. He learned all he could about crocodile and then kept some of them at his home. At some point, he sold the house to create a zoo, solely devoted to crocodilians. His show made him popular, as the last episode drew a crowd of over one million viewers.
Dwarf Caimans: Strong but still in Danger
If you ever hold a dwarf caiman, you will feel the strange texture of his skin. It is a body armor of dermal scales, which can protect it from other animal attacks but also from humans. Unlike the very large ones, it is not thick enough to protect them from bullets or truncheon things, so a man wanting to kill a dwarf caiman can do so easily. However, in nature, it is well protected, and it can run or swim really fast.
The biggest danger for the caiman dwarf comes from human, but indirectly. As more an more factories are opened, the pollution and damage they cause are a threat to the dwarf caiman. Mining projects are also a cause for concern. Now that people want them as pet, they are taken out of their natural habitat, which is also dangerous for their survival.