Cuviers dwarf caiman

Paleosuchus palpebrosus

IUCN Status: Least concern


The dwarf caiman of the Amazon tributaries all eat prey items they can find by their aquatic habitat relevant to their size. When they are younger this would be tadpoles, small fish, frogs, crabs, shrimps, molluscs and other invertebrates. As they grow they can engage with bigger fish, lizards, small mammals and birds.


A mound nest of vegetation is made and the female lays up to 25 eggs inside and then gaurds the eggs for the next 90 days or so as the develop. On hatching they call and she digs them out remaining with them for a few weeeks as they begin to grow. Cuvier's do not mature until eight years of age.

At The Zoo

We have a lovely maturing young pair born and bred at the Crocodile Foundation in the UK. During the day they tend to remain within their heated water but as they would in the wild at low light levels they explore outside of their water environment particualrly if we enter to feed. It is quite something to watch these little crocodiles do a death roll when they are fed locusts by their keeper just like a full grown "Mugger" or Nile crocodile would with bigger prey in the wild.


Cuvier's live on the edges of smaller streams in the flooded river forests and lakesides of the Amazon, Orinoco, Paraguay and Parana river basins. They are known to lie up in burrows during the day and can travel large distances undercover of night.

Fun Facts

This is the smallest crocodilian species in the world attaining at best 1.5 metres (5ft) n length. Taking 8 -10 years to mature this is very slow growing crocodilian and ideally suited for our tropical house. Crocodiles (of which caiman are part of ) like birds have a gizzard and the food is ground up by small stones within before swallowing.


Dwarf caiman are predators but in the food chain and web of life they are also prey to many predators including bigger cuvier caiman and different larger species. They tend to be very secretive and are crepuscular in terms of activity although they can be found basking partally submerged in sunny spots on well hidden streams in daytime.