Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodilus) Care Sheet
The following caiman are also covered by the information in this care sheet; Dwarf Caiman, Culver’s Dwarf Caiman, Yacari Caiman, and the Piranha Caiman.
Spectacled caimans get their name from the bony ridge between the fronts of their eyes, which appears to join them like a pair of glasses (spectacles).
Spectacled caimans are the most widely distributed New World crocodilian and can be found in most of Central and South America. The spectacled caiman is the most common of all crocodilian species because of its adaptation to tolerating salt water as well as fresh water. These caimans prefer lowland wetland and riverine habitat types throughout its range but generally prefer areas of still or slow moving water, such as ponds, lakes, marshes and slow rivers. When environmental conditions become harsh incompatible to their survival, spectacled caimans can burrow into the mud and aestivate.
The average male spectacled caiman is around 6 feet with females measuring in around 4.5 feet. the males tend to grow faster and get larger. The average life expectancy is 75 years for wild specimens. The captive lifespan for a spectacled caman is unknown at this time. This species is primarily nocturnal.
Your caiman will need a large enclosure, preferably outdoors. Your enclosure will need to be divided into two parts consisting of water and a dry basking area (land). The water section should be 2 times wider than the length of your caiman and should be 3 times longer than the length of your caiman. The basking area should be large enough for the caiman to lay itself out completely and turn around comfortably.
Caimans are a basking species and need access to unfiltered sunlight or artificially supplied UVB. Climates that do not allow you to house your caiman outdoors will require you to also provide artificial heating at night.
The air and water should fall between 85-90 degrees.
Caimans are carnivores and their diet needs to reflect this. Options for prey include dead fish, deer, steak, any raw meat, road kill, rabbits, bunnies, guinea pigs, rats and squirrels. You can offer chicken occasionally but not regularly because the additives can affect their offspring and breeding. You can also add live fish in the pond occasionally.
Reptile calcium and vitamins should be offered on occasion. Especially if feeding them meat without bones for a while.
Clean the filters regularly and be prepared to refill the pond occasionally.
When the cloaca is large enough to put your pinky in, you can sex them. This usually doesn't happen until they are around 3 years old or about 3-4 feet. I don't recommend probing because a slight miss can ruin your caiman's reproduction chances.
Females become sexually mature around 4 feet (1.2m), which is between 4 and 7 years old. Males mature at similar size and age at 4.5 feet (1.4 m) and 4 to 7 years old.
Courting and breeding usually occurs between May and August with eggs being laid during the rainy (wet) season. Females can lay up to 40 eggs. The eggs are deposited in mounds constructed of vegetation and soil. Some nests are documented as being shared by multiple females, in a strategy believed to help increase the survival rates from predation. Females will remain close to the nests in an effort to help prevent predation.
The eggs take around 90 days to hatch and will feed upon invertebrates and other small critters. The juveniles will remain close to the mother and will develop a social hierarchies between themselves.
No matter what you are told, spectacled caimans do not grow as large as their enclosure and you can NEVER tame them. These animals have a survival instinct that has been instilled upon them since before the dawn of man. You will not tame that out of them.