Caiman Exhibit

Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman

Range: Northern and Central South America
Diet: Carnivore including fish, frogs, small mammals, and invertebrates
Weight: 13-15 pounds
Size: 3.9-4.6 feet
Life Span: 30-40 years

The Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman is the smallest of all crocodilians.  However their bite force can generate about 3,700 psi which is a very powerful bite force in the animal kingdom and can even break the bones of humans. Their upper jaw extends further forward than the lower jaw and they have about 80 feet total. Their speed in the water can reach up to 30 miles per hour.

The dwarf caiman is the only crocodilian species that does not perform the “death roll” technique that is used by other crocodilians for feeding or combat.  Their prey is mostly swallowed whole and is ground up by stones in the gizzard.

Our Cuvier’s Dwarf Caimans name is Frank.  He is the bigger of the two animals in the exhibit.

American Alligator

Range: Southeastern United States
Diet: Carnivore including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals
Weight: Up to 1000 pounds
Size: 11-15 feet
Life Span: 30-50 years

This is the largest of the living alligator species and is the state reptile for Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi.  American Alligators range from long and slender to short and robust in response to variations in growth rate, diet, and climate.

They have 74-80 teeth.  Juveniles have small needle-like teeth that become more robust.  Their snouts become broader as they age as well.  These changes correspond as the shifts in their diet from small animals to larger animals occur as they get bigger. They also rely on their gizzard to break up their food. American Alligators have a very high biting force but the muscles to open their jaws are weak.  Their jaws can bite through the shell of a turtle and be held closed by tape.

American Alligators swim like a fish moving side to side.  With their abdominal muscles, these alligators can alter the position of their lungs within their body to shift their center of buoyancy that allows them to dive, rise, and roll within the water.

Our American Alligators name is Hector.  He is the smaller of the two animals in the exhibit.