The spectacled caimen of Central and South America is a ‘small’ crocodillian at a maximum size of around 8 feet, with males being the largest and females reaching a little more than five feet in length. It inhabits rain forest rivers and pools and its diet is predominately fish and occasionally capybara and small anacondas. They differ from most other crocodillians in having small bony plates in each scale of the skin called osteoderms and it gains its name of ‘spectacled’ caimen from the high bony ridges which look vaguely like a pair of glasses. Much like alligators and crocodiles have diagnostic snout and teeth arrangements so to does the caimen. They have short fairly broad snout like an alligator, but have two pairs of teeth which stick out sideways from the mouth and can be used defensively even if the mouth is fully closed.
A dangerous wild animals (dwa) licence is required for this species BEFORE one can be purchased.
Spectacled Caimen Enclosure
A garage sized enclosure is best suited as a pair will require a well filtered large watered area and also a suitably sized land area. The water area should be large enough to conceal an adult and at least 2 or 3 feet deep. Ideally a 12 foot by 6 foot area is required for a land area and 12 by 12 foot size for the water area. There should be some suitably large logs and some shrubs around the edges of the enclosure. Duckweed and fairy moss can be added to the water area to provide a visual barrier when the occupant is submerged. Provide a basking spot on dry land by a way of a 160 watt powersun UVB spotbulb. Temperature should be regulated with a thermostat. The water should be heated to around 25 degrees. Substrate should be a sandy soil and doesn’t need to be deeper than around 4 inches or so.
Spectacled Caimen Feeding
Feed a spectacled caimen sparingly as they regularly go without food in the wild for months at a time. Young specimens should be fed twice weekly, with hatchlings up to 14 inches taking 1 pinkie mouse, up to 18 inches 2 pinkies or one goldfish/fuzzy mouse. From 18 up to 30 inches they should be taking 1 large mouse or rat once a week and larger than that a suitably sized meal up to an adult rabbit or chicken once every week to 10 days. This is a rough guide only as more active caimens may require more food. Obesity causes blindness so care should be taken to avoid over feeding.