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Black Caiman

Black caiman

The Black Caiman (Melanosuchus niger), is a crocodile, which belongs to the Alligatoridae family of the crocodiles. This is the largest crocodile of the Alligatoridae family. They have different common names such as Lagarto negro, Black caiman, Yacare Assu, etc.

Physical Appearance
These are the largest crocodile in their family and can grow up to a size of 4 meters. These species have dark coloration and their lower jaw has grey binding, which changes to brown when they grow as an adult. In the juveniles, white or pale yellow colored bands are present on their body. And, these bands get diminished as they grow. These crocodiles have narrow snout and large eyes. They have a bony ridge with black and scaly skin.

Habitat and Behavior
The Black Caiman crocodile are the freshwater habitat. They are found in streams, rivers and lakes. These crocodiles are present in different countries like French Guiana, Colombia, Guyana, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Brazil.

Diet
The juvenile of these crocodiles feed on insects and crustaceans. But, when they grow up they feed on perch, piranhas and other catfish. These crocodiles are also known to feed on birds, turtles and mammals. The bigger Black caiman are known to feed even on deer, capybara, anacondas and tapirs. These crocodiles swallow their prey as their teeth are so designed that it can help them in grabbing but not in cutting.

Reproduction / Breeding
Much is not known about the breeding habits of these species. They are known to build nest in December and their nest measures around (5 feet x 2.5 feet). The female lay about (50 to 60) eggs and the eggs take around six weeks to hatch. The female guards the eggs till it hatches. When the eggs hatch, the female takes these hatchlings to the water. The mother even helps the hatchlings to come out of the egg. After taking the hatchlings to water the female take care of these hatchlings and remain with them for several months. The reproduction rate is slow in this species. They are known to breed once in every (2 to 3) years of time.

Black caimans

Conservation
The Black caiman crocodile were in the IUCN Red list of endangered species, in the 1970s. It was estimated that their population has gone down to around 99%. The reason behind coming in the Red list was, over-hunting of these species for their meat and skin, and destruction of their natural habitat by the human being. But, today the condition is not the same. The Black caiman crocodile is at lower risk. The government has taken proper measures to prevent the decreasing numbers of these species. The hunting of these crocodiles has been declared illegal and also these species are being bred in the captivity. It was not much known about these crocodiles till 1980. After 1980, a research was done and these facts were disclosed. But, even today much is needed to be known about these species. It can be said that conservation measures worked very well to save these species from extinction.