The broad snouted caiman has, as its name suggests the broadest snout of any species of crocodilian.
Across the scaly skin of the broad snouted caiman they are colored olive-green. Some individuals have spots across the face.
These caiman average a length of 2m (6.6ft) long though some exceptionally large males of up to 3.5m (11.5ft) have been recorded. Males are often larger than females.
On average a broad-snouted caiman will weigh 62kg (136.6lbs).
The broad snouted caiman is a carnivore. Their diet includes snails, shrimp, fish, reptiles and birds.
Their jaw is strong and can easily crush the shells of invertebrates such as snails and reptiles such as turtles.
One individual was observed to undertake a passive feeding behavior where it would sit under a flow of water and wait for food to enter its mouth and it would then swallow.
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South America is the native home of the broad-snouted caiman. Here they can be found in the following countries – Argentina; Bolivia; Brazil; Paraguay and Uruguay.
In parts of their range they live alongside the Yacare caiman.
Broad-snouted caimans make their home in wetlands and mangroves. They tend to favor still or slow-moving water courses.
Man-made habitats such as agricultural irrigation impoundments which are created for rice and sugar cane fields.
Eggs are laid during the wet season. Males will court a female by bellowing.
A female will create a nest mound in to which she can deposit between 18 and 50 eggs. In some areas communal nests have been reported containing up to four females eggs.
The gender of the hatchlings is determined by the temperature at which the eggs incubate. Warmer temperatures lead to female hatchlings while lower temperatures lead to males.
To help manage this the mother lays her eggs in two layers which incubate at different temperatures to create an even gender ratio. The two layers are separated by a pile of vegetation.
Eggs will incubate for between 60 and 90 days to hatch. Females will guard their nest during this time. At hatching the females may break the shell of the egg in their mouth and carry the hatchling to the water.
Juveniles emit a call prior to hatching. After hatching the juvenile will emit a contact call to help locate its siblings.
Sexual maturity is reached at 5 years old in ideal conditions.
The broad snouted caiman will produce a range of calls though they decrease the amount of vocalizations used as they grow. Females may hiss when defending their nest.
Predators and Threats
The only natural predator of the broad-snouted caiman which has been recorded is humans. In the 1990s they were almost hunted to extinction.
Humans have affected the population of the broad snouted caiman through habitat loss, pollution, hunting and habitat alteration including the building of dams. Urbanization has lead to a decrease in their habitat. Increases in fishing will reduce the availability of food.
Broad-snouted caimans are seen to be one of the best skins for use in products and this has increased hunting pressure on them. Hunting also takes place to fuel the meat trade.
They have been seen as quite adaptable and have been able to colonize man-made environments.
The latirostris portion of their scientific name means “wide nose” and is derived from Latin.
Walter S. Prado, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Middle One and Two
Miguelrangeljr, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Siroski, P., Bassetti, L.A.B., Piña, C. & Larriera, A. 2020. Caiman latirostris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T46585A3009813. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T46585A3009813.en. Downloaded on 18 April 2021.
Jungledragon.com. 2021. Broad-snouted Caiman (Caiman latirostris) – JungleDragon. [online] Available at: <https://www.jungledragon.com/specie/141/broad-snouted_caiman.html> [Accessed 18 April 2021].
Zoobarcelona.cat. 2021. Broad-snouted caiman. [online] Available at: <https://www.zoobarcelona.cat/en/animals/broadsnouted-caiman> [Accessed 18 April 2021].
Britton, A., 2021. Crocodilian Species – Broad-snouted Caiman (Caiman latirostris). [online] Crocodilian.com. Available at: <https://crocodilian.com/cnhc/csp_clat.htm> [Accessed 18 April 2021].
Rayburn, K. 2011. “Caiman latirostris” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 18, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Caiman_latirostris/
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