Dwarf Caimans Hatch at The DWA

| October 9, 2017

The Dwarf caiman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus) is the smallest of all living crocodilian species. Adults barely reach a maximum length of six feet. The species occurs in the wet lands and humid forests in the South American Amazon. Females are smaller than males and surprisingly they lay eggs almost as big as larger crocodiles and alligators. The DWA acquired a pair of Dwarf caimans in 2011 and displayed them on the second level of the Orinoco Rainforest exhibit near the bats. When the Dwarf caimans grew, they were replaced by the other species of Dwarf caiman (Paleosuchus trigonatus). One of these “trigs” is currently in the exhibit and the other is in the “Croc Room” where we also have the older pair of “palps”.

On July 5th 2017, Luis Sigler, Conservation Biologist and Crocodile Specialist, found ten eggs freshly lay in the “palps” tank. The eggs were removed from the tank and placed in a plastic container with perlite, vermiculite and sphagnum moss. The ten eggs looked in good condition and started to show a “macula” which turned into a band indicating, the eggs were fertile and the embryos were developing inside.

Incubator temperature was set at 30° C and relative humidity above 90%. Every day the eggs were inspected and sprayed with water to keep them moist. After 89 days of incubation, Sigler decided to inspect one of the eggs and observe the development of the baby caiman inside — the baby caiman was perfectly developed and healthy. Three more eggs were selected to assist the hatchlings emerge from the eggs. This help is provided by the mother who uncovers the eggs she buried in a mound of soil and plant debris. She then cracks the eggs by rolling them in her mouth, releasing the babies that she later carries to the water’s edge. The hatchlings remain in a group that helps their survival, going their separate way when they are around a year old.

The DWA’s Dwarf caiman is only three feet long!! This is the smallest species of crocodilian, and maybe we just saw one of the smallest adult females became a mother!

Category: Featured, Newsletter

About the Author ()

Comments are closed.