The dwarf caiman is widespread throughout the Orinoco and Amazon basins. It is most commonly found in the wetlands of Brazil, Surinam, French Guiana, Guyana, and Venezuela.
The dwarf caiman prefers clean, clear, fast-moving streams or rivers in forested areas containing waterfalls and rapids. It can tolerate cooler temperatures as compared to other crocodilians and it inhabits freshwater (it avoids salty or briny water).
This species is the smallest crocodilian in the New World (Americas). Perhaps in part to make up for their small size, dwarf caiman are covered with heavy bony armor. Males can grow to between 4 and 5 feet while females generally only grow to about 4 feet in length. Unusual amongst crocodilians, the Cuvier’s dwarf caiman has a short, smooth high-domed head and upturned snout.
Diet in the Zoo: mice
Diet in the Wild: As juveniles they most likely eat invertebrates (like crustaceans) primarily. As adults, fish comprises most of their diets.
Exact longevity is unknown although generally, the adults have been known to live 20-40 years.
Very little is known about Cuvier’s dwarf caiman reproductive habits. They do build mounded nests.
They are usually found singly or in pairs and are rarely seen in high densities.
IUCN lists this species at Lower Risk, Least Concern. It is however listed on CITIES Appendix II which regulates international trade in specific animals and/or their parts. Cuvier’s dwarf caiman is relatively abundant in its native habitat.