Origin:Found along the Amazon River basin in South America.
Description:Males can reach a size of up to 5 feet and females up to 4 feet in total length. The dwarf caimans are primarily nocturnal and spend a large amount of the day in a burrow.
Feeding:Dwarf caimans are carnivores. They can be fed live pinkie mice, crickets, superworms, crayfish or earthworms. You may also feed turtle pellets or krill. Feeder fish should be available at all times. It has been said that feeding exclusively goldfish may cause a deficiency of Vitamin E so try to feed a variety of feeder fish including bait fish such as minnows. A calcium supplement is a good idea especially in young, growing animals. You can "gut-load" your live prey with a number of commercially available diets. A hatchling should be fed every day or two. Sub-adult dwarf caimans should be fed 2 to 3 times per week using properly sized food items. Adults can be fed 1 to 2 times per week with properly sized food items. Try to feed a variety of prey items that can be easily swallowed whole. The movement of these prey items will trigger a natural feeding response. There is a dry crocodilian diet (2 sizes available) made by Mazuri that can also be fed.
Housing:The dwarf caiman is one of the least aquatic of all of the crocodilians. In the wild, it spends a lot of time in heavily shaded and rapidly moving waters. In captivity, dwarf caimans seem to dislike high light levels, preferring instead dim lighting and shade. At night, they perform a large amount of land activity so give them a large land area in which to roam. They also enjoy flowing water but this is not a necessity. A ten or twenty gallon aquarium is a good starter tank for hatchlings. This allows them to feed with more efficiency and helps them feel more secure. These caimans tend to do better in smaller surroundings for the first month or two. As the caiman grows and is feeding well, the accommodations will need to be larger. A 55 gallon or 100 gallon aquarium would be the next best size. Every habitat should have an area with a basking spot. This area could be as simple as a rock, a piece of floating cork bark, a piece of fixed driftwood or a combination of cork bark, driftwood, rocks and plants. We use a day light bulb during the day and a heat light bulb at night in the basking area. The wattage of the light will depend on the size of the tank. Ceramic heat emitters may also be used instead of the lights. The basking area should have a temperature of 90 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The water in the aquarium should be changed weekly unless a good, effective filtration system is used. With a filtration system, the water may only be changed every month or so but the water must still be monitored so that it is not polluted. Note: This species is probably the most cold tolerant of the caiman group. Therefore, it is our personal opinion and recommendation to use cool water when initially setting up these caimans or when changing the water in their tank. It has been our experience that this caiman does not do well when warmer water is used under the circumstances mentioned above. Someone else might disagree but this is just what we have experienced ourselves.
S & S Exotic Animals, Inc., 1711 Connorvale, Houston, TX 77039 (281) 590-0426