Broad-snouted Caiman

Broad-snouted Caiman

Broad-snouted Caiman information

The Broad-snouted caiman, Caiman latirostris, is a crocodilian native to eastern and central South America.

Broad-snouted Caiman taxonomy















Caiman latirostris

Some Argentinean populations have been suggested for subspecies status (Caiman latirostris chacoensis), but no subspecies has been officially recognized.

Broad-snouted Caiman conservation status

Caiman latirostris is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The estimated wild population is comprised of 250,000 to 500,000 individuals.

This species is still widespread, but habitat loss, pollution and illegal hunting pose a risk. Successful managing programs, including ranching and restocking, exist.

The only severely depleted populations are found in Bolivia.  

Broad-snouted Caiman range

The Broad-snouted caiman is native to Uruguay, Paraguay, south-eastern Brazil, Bolivia, and northern Argentina.

Broad-snouted Caiman habitat

The Broad-snouted caiman is a highly aquatic species that prefers marshes, swamps and mangrove habitats, and it can also be found in many small Atlantic river drainages. The species inhabits both fresh and brackish conditions, and mangrove habitats surrounding small coastal islands in southeast Brazil. It happily takes advantage of man-made bodies of water, such as cattle stock ponds.

The range of Caiman latirostris overlaps that of Caiman yacare. C. latirostris normally stays in slow-moving waters in densely forested regions where it will not encounter C. yacare. A wider variety of habitat types can however be utilized by C. latirostris in areas where C. yacare is not present.  

Broad-snouted Caiman size and appearance

As the name suggests, the Broad-snouted caiman can be recognized on its unusually broad snout. Proportionally, its snout is even broader than that of the famous American alligator. The snout is adorned with a prominent ridge.

The Broad-snouted caiman can reach a length of 3.5 meters (11.5 feet), but most males grow no larger than 2 meters (6.6 feet) and the females are even smaller.

Most adult specimens are pale olive-green, but some individuals are darker as an adaptation to their specific climate. Some specimens have spotted jaws. The number of teeth varies from 68 to 78.  

Broad-snouted Caiman feeding and diet

The Broad-snouted caiman feeds chiefly on small invertebrates, especially ampullarid snails that live in the water. It will however readily catch small vertebrates as well, e.g. fish and amphibians. The jaws are well-suited to crushing the shells of snails and turtles.

Broad-snouted Caiman breeding

The Broad-snouted caiman builds mound nests, usually on isolated river islands. The construction takes place during the rainy season, with northerly populations commencing nest building before the more southerly ones. The female has chief responsibility for building the nest but she is sometimes assisted by the male.

The eggs are laid in two layers, possibly in order to create a slight temperature difference between the two layers. The sex of a Broad-snouted caiman is determined by the temperature to which the incubating embryo is subjected.

In captive kept specimens, the normal clutch size varies from 20 to 60 eggs.

The incubation period is roughly 70 days. Females have been observed aiding their offspring by opening the nest as the young hatch and help them reach the water. One or both parents will then guard the young for an indeterminate period.

 Broad-snouted Caiman facts

Broad-snouted Caiman facts # 1
The scientific name Caiman latirostris is a reference to the broad snout of this species. In Latin, the word lati means broad while the word rostris means snout.

Broad-snouted Caiman facts # 2
Within its native range, the Broad-snouted caiman is known under many different names, such as Tinga, Jacaré Verde, Jacaré de Hocico, Jacaré de Papo Amarelo, Yacaré de Hocico Ancho, Yacaré Overo, Overo, Ancho, and Ururan.

Broad-snouted Caiman facts # 3
Broad-snouted caimans devour large amounts of snails and diminishing caiman populations can therefore cause increased numbers of snails in the water. A decrease of Broad-snouted caimans in areas where they used to be common has also been linked to an increase in fluke parasites in cattle. Increased snail populations are good news for fluke parasites since they use snails as intermediate hosts, and depleting local populations of caimans can therefore be detrimental to farmers relying on cattle production. 

Broad-snouted Caiman facts # 4
Both C. latirostris and C. yacare are found up to 600 meters (1,970 feet) above sea level. They are comparatively tolerant to low temperatures and individuals living at such high elevations are darker than their low-land relatives.

Broad-snouted Caiman facts # 5
Compared to other species of caiman, the skin of C. latirostris is more suited for tanning and consequently yields a higher price on the hide market.


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