The caiman lizard prefers to eat snails. So with muscular jaws it crunches the snail, then spits out the pieces of shell. How cool!!
Habitat: Flooded woodlands in the Amazon rainforest of South America
Diet in the wild: Mainly snails, but also crawfish, freshwater clams, fish, turtles and invertebrates
Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Snails, fish, fuzzy mice, crickets and superworms.
Size: Up to four feet long; weigh 10 pounds
Family: Female lays 8-10 eggs along a riverbank then covers them. Incubation takes 5-6 months. When hatchlings emerge, they are on their own since like most reptiles there is no parental care.
Status: IUCN lists the caiman lizard as least concern, however Appendix II of CITES lists this lizard as threatened by exploitation (primarily leather trade) and habitat loss.
Did you know? This unique lizard is arboreal AND aquatic, spending time in the water, but also basking on branches that overhang water. When sensing danger the caiman lizard will drop into the water for safety. With sharp claws, powerful legs and a long, flat tail, this reptile is able to climb well, swim and dive and even dig and burrow. Humans need to use goggles to protect their eyes while swimming, but this lizard just closes its third eyelid for protection.