CSL
Caiman crocodilus fuscus (COPE, 1868)


NAMES | DISTRIBUTION | HABITAT | STATUS | APPEARANCE | IMAGES | DIET | BREEDING | CONSERVATION

FAMILY:
ALLIGATORIDAE

A. mississippiensis
A. sinensis
C. crocodilus
C. c. apaporiensis
C. c. fuscus
C. latirostris
C. yacare
M. niger
P. palpebrosus
P. trigonatus

FAMILY:
CROCODYLIDAE

C. acutus
C. intermedius
C. johnstoni
C. mindorensis
C. moreletii
C. niloticus
C. novaeguineae
C. palustris
C. porosus
C. rhombifer
C. siamensis
M. cataphractus
O. tetraspis
T. schlegelii

FAMILY:
GAVIALIDAE

G. gangeticus

DICHOTOMOUS KEY
[German]

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STATUS OF INFORMATION:
This information was most-recently updated January 2009 and is considered up-to-date. Please contact me directly regarding updates or corrections.

COMMON NAMES:
Brown Caiman, American Caiman, Cuajipal, Dusky caiman, Jacaretinga, Lagarto Chato, Lagarto de Concha, Lagarto negro, Magdalena caiman, Pululo, Talulín, Wizizil

NAME ETYMOLOGY:
> Caiman is a Spanish term for "alligator" or any crocodilian
> crocodilus means "a crocodile" (Latin)
> fuscus means "brown" (Latin), referring to the predominant body colour

SUBSPECIES STATUS:
This caiman is viewed as a subspecies of Caiman crocodilus [see that species' description for a general overview]. Some sources regard Mexican and Central American populations of this subspecies to be C. c. chiapasius.

DISTRIBUTION:
[CLICK ON MAP FOR DETAILED RANGE]
Distribution map Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba*, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico*, Mexico (south), Venezuela. Reported in the CSG Action Plan 1996 to be restricted to Atlantic coastal drainages of Colombia (including the Magdelena river), and western Venezuela.
[* = introduced]

HABITAT:
Found in a variety of habitat types (and a variety of water salinities).

STATUS:
     CITES: Appendix II
     IUCN Red List: LRlc (LOW RISK, LEAST CONCERN)
     Estimated wild population: over 100,000
Summary: Healthy populations exist within this subspecies' distribution

APPEARANCE:
Average size is from 1 to 2 m. General appearance is, as expected, similar to Caiman crocodilus. As the name of this subspecies suggests, however, general colouration is a darker, olive-brown. However, this is less apparent in the more southerly populations, which have a colouration more similar to the nominate race.

Dentition codeDENTITION:
5 pre-maxillary; 14-15 maxillary; 18-20 mandibular
Total no. of teeth = 74-80

IMAGES:
[click on image for enlargement]

Click Brown caiman floating at water surface Click Hatchling brown caiman Click Hatchling brown caiman #2

DIET:
Primarily aquatic invertebrates (particularly snails, but also crustaceans), and fish. Shares the nominate form's opportunistic nature.

BREEDING:
Can take place at any time throughout the year. A mound nest is constructed from plant material and soil into which 15 to 30 eggs are laid. The incubation period averages 75 to 80 days.

CONSERVATION:
Little specific research has been undertaken for this subspecies, and conservation measures need to be developed further. Surveys reveal populations to be very low in Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, and of uncertain status throughout the rest of the subspecies' range. More survey data are required in these areas to determine the best course of conservation action. The primary threats are habitat destruction and, in some areas, illegal hunting. Fully protected in several countries (Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela), with hunting restrictions in force in others (Colombia, Panama). As with all crocodilians in developing countries, protection is rarely enforced effectively. Although the potential for captive breeding exists, this status is uncertain. Feral populations in Cuba and Puerto Rico are thought to be of C. crocodilus fuscus, and that would imply that this subspecies is thought to be predominant in the legal pet trade. Whether this is true is uncertain.

MORE INFORMATION:
For more information on distribution and conservation issues for this species,see the CSG
Action Plan resource on Caiman crocodilus.

SIGNIFICANT REFERENCES:

  • King, FW & Burke, RL (1989). Crocodilian, Tuatara and Turtle Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Assoc. Systematics Collections, Washington, D.C. pp. 216
  • Medem, F (1981). Los Crocodylia de Sur America. Vol 1. Los Crocodylia de Colombia. Colciencias, Bogota. pp. 354
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