The Spectacled Caiman of Costa Rica
The Spectacled Caiman is the most common of all crocodile species. It has reached great numbers, because it can adapt to life in saltwater and freshwater.
Caimans are found from the southern reaches of Mexico to the northern regions of South America including the Amazon. Spectacled Caimans inhabit mangrove swamps and tropical wet lowlands. They can be spotted at Cahuita National Park, Tortuguero National Park, Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands, Corcovado National Park and La Amistad International Park to name a few places in Costa Rica.
Mating & Reproduction
Spectacled Caimans mate during the dry season for the most part, and they nest in the rainy season. Larger females lay larger eggs than the smaller ones. They lay a clutch of up to 40 eggs at one time. The nests are made of vegetation which produces a necessary degree of heat for the eggs as it decays. The temperature of the eggs is vitally important to the incubation of the eggs.
When the young hatch, they are yellow with black spots in contrast to the coloring of their parents. The temperature also effects whether they develop into female or male Caimans. A higher temp yields more females, and a lower temp makes more males.
Depending on their size, Spectacled Caimans will eat insects, crustaceans, mollusks, fish, snails and wild pigs. The Spectacled Caiman is an opportunistic hunter which benefits it in terms of its success in the wild. Because it is such an effective and adaptive hunter, it is a threat to the survival of some other species that inhabit the same waters as it does.
In winter months, the Spectacled Caiman will appear darker than in the rest of the year due to a black pigment in their skin cells expanding.
Their common name comes from the appearance of their faces bone structure and its resemblance to glasses.
Where to see it in Costa Rica: Cahuita National Park, Tortuguero National Park, Terraba Sierpe National Wetlands, Corcovado National Park, La Amistad International Park
Diet: insects, crustaceans, mollusks, wild pigs, fish, snails
Migration Pattern: non-migratory
Habitat: mangrove swamps, tropical wet lowlands
Size: length=1.2-2 m weight=7-40 kg (males are larger than females)
Species: Caiman crocodilus