CSL
Paleosuchus trigonatus (SCHNEIDER, 1801)


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]

MAIN MENU

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:
Smooth-fronted caiman, Schneider's dwarf caiman, Jacaré Coroa, Cochirre, Jacaré curua, Yacaré coroa

NAME ETYMOLOGY:
> Paleosuchus means "ancient crocodile", derived from palaios (Greek for "ancient") + soukhos (Greek for "crocodile"), referring to the taxonomy and age of the genus
> trigonatus means "provided with three corners", derived from trigonos (Greek for "three-cornered") + atus (Latin suffix meaning "provided with"), referring to the shape of the head

DISTRIBUTION:
[CLICK ON MAP FOR DETAILED RANGE]
Distribution map Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Surinam, Venezuela. Much overlap with Paleosuchus palpebrosus, but not as extensive southwards (probably due to a decreased cold tolerance in comparison with P. palpebrosus).

HABITAT:
Freshwater riverine, principally shallower forest streams, but adults often spend much of their time in burrows away from water, travelling overland between burrows and water to forage. Found in similar habitats to P. palpebrosus in both Venezuela and Bolivia. Reported at altitudes as high as 1,300m in Venezuela. The shape of the snout may indicate increased preference for faster-flowing water. More active at night, with much terrestrial activity recorded. Extensive use of burrows has been recorded in adults, where they spend much of the day, only coming out at night to patrol their territories (along waterways) and to feed.

STATUS:
     CITES: Appendix II
     IUCN Red List: LRlc (LOW RISK, LEAST CONCERN)
     Estimated wild population: over 1,000,000
Summary: Widely distributed with healthy populations and lack of significant population pressure

APPEARANCE:
[click on image for enlargement]
Head drawing Both species in the Paleosuchus genus are small in comparison with other crocodilians, but this species is not as small as P. palpebrosus. Males usually reach 1.7 to 2.3 m (maximum recorded is 2.6 m). Ossification is more extensive, and scute size on the body and short, less-flexible tail are more extensive than in P. palpebrosus. Significant sideways projection on the double row of sharp scutes on the tail, which is more dorso-ventrally flattened that in other crocodilian species (which are more laterally flattened). Iris generally brown, but reported to take on a greenish tinge. Also lacks the infra-orbital bony ridge (which serves to strengthen the skull) found in Caiman crocodilus. Walks with a distinctive head-raised posture.

Dentition codeDENTITION:
4 pre-maxillary; 14-15 maxillary; 21-22 mandibular
Total no. of teeth = 78-82

IMAGES:
[click on image for enlargement]

Click Head of caiman resting at the water's edge

DIET:
Diet composition changes with age, as with many species of crocodilian. It has been shown that the diet of caimans in the wild is dependant upon their habitat preferences. Juvenile P. trigonatus tend to eat a greater proportion of terrestrial invertebrates than other caiman species, and the adults include a much larger proportion of terrestrial vertebrates in their diet such as snakes and mammals (e.g. large rodents), together with a few fish (which are more common in the diet of the juveniles). Diet depends on prey availability. They are reported to forage from burrows at night, often near water, but also in the surrounding forest within the territories - which can range for several kilometres.

BREEDING:
Relatively solitary outside the breeding season, with extensive territories. Females begin to construct mound nests before the onset of the annual rains. Most are at least 1.3 m in length when they start to breed, males at least 1.4 m (usually between 10 and 20 years of age). Nests are often found within very close proximity of termite mounds. The reasons for this are thought to be concerned with maintenance of a high incubation temperature, utilising vented heat from the termite mound. Number of eggs laid is in the range of 10 to 20. Incubation time is very long for a crocodilian, being as long as 115 days. Hatchlings emerge as water levels are rising from the rains. Juveniles disperse over a wide range following hatching, with adults maintaining permanent territories over wide areas. While juvenile mortality is relatively high, adult mortality is very low. Predators may include large carnivores such as jaguars.

CONSERVATION:
Information gathering on other species of crocodilians has led to the accumulation of a reasonable amount of survey data for this species. Due to the osteoderm-laden nature of the skin of this species it has, like P. palpebrosus escaped significant hunting pressure. Subsistence hunting has been of sufficiently low intensity to avoid damaging populations. Major present and future threats include with the ever-present spectre of habitat destruction, and pollution associated with gold mining activities. Commercial exploitation incentives are low, with collection in Guyana permitted for the pet trade and tourist trade. Management activities are based on a principally conservation-orientated approach. Future studies need, therefore, to shed more light on the biology and behaviour of this species, and inter-relationships between both members of the Paleosuchus genus. The long-term effects of the environmental pollution from gold mining also need to be examined for this and other South American crocodilians.

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

SIGNIFICANT REFERENCES:

  • Godshalk, R.E. (1982). The habitat and distribution of Paleosuchus in Venezuela. In: Crocodiles. Proc. Fifth Working Meeting of the IUCN/SSC Crocodile Specialist Group, Gainesville, Florida. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. p.31-38
  • Magnusson, W.E. (1985). Habitat selection, parasites and injuries in Amazonian crocodiles. Amazonia 9:193-204
  • Magnusson, W.E. (1989). Paleosuchus. In: Crocodiles. Their Ecology, Management and Conservation. A Special Publication of the IUCN/SSC Crocodile Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. p.101-109
  • Magnusson, W.E., Da Silva, E.V. & Lima, A.P. (1987). Diets of amazonian crocodilians. J. Herpetology. 21:85-95
  • Magnusson, W.E., Lima, A.P. & Sampaio, R.A. (1985). Sources of heat for nests from Paleosuchus trigonatus and a review of crocodilian nest temperatures. J. Herpetology 19(2):199-207
  • Magnusson, W.E. & Lima, A.P. (1991). The ecology of a cryptic predator, Paleosuchus trigonatus, in a tropical rainforest. J. Herpetology 25:41-48
  • NAMES | DISTRIBUTION | HABITAT | STATUS | APPEARANCE | IMAGES | DIET | BREEDING | CONSERVATION

    SPECIES LIST | BIOLOGY DATABASE | COMMUNICATION | CAPTIVE CARE
    CROCS ON FILM | CROC SHOTS | CHINESE ALLIGATOR FUND | CROC LINKS


    Return to Crocodilians Natural History & Conservation
    Design and content by Adam Britton © 1995-2012 All rights reserved. [email]