Cuvier's Dwarf Caiman

(Paleosuchus palpebrosus)


Cuvier's Dwarf Caiman IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The Cuvier's dwarf caiman has a rather long snout, about 1.6 times as long as broad at the level of the front corners of the eyes. The surface of the head is completely smooth, without bony ridges between the eyes or in front of them. The upper eyelid is nearly completely ossified and with a smooth surface. The colour of the upper body surface is dark brownish, nearly black in old animals. Youngsters are somewhat lighter and with dark blotches and crossbands. The ear coverlets are reddish brown, equally as the cranial table. There are large dark blotches on the sides of the jaws and the iris is reddish brown to orange. It can grow up to 1.7 m but is usually about 1.4 m.

Did you know?
that the Cuvier's dwarf caiman is the least known of the New World crocodilians? Even such basic topics as prey, habitat preference and reproduction are poorly known. Research including on ecological interactions with other crocodilians and the effects of subsistence hunting would be urgently needed.


Name (Scientific) Paleosuchus palpebrosus
Name (English) Cuvier's Dwarf Caiman
Name (French) Caiman nain de Cuvier
Name (German) Brauen-Glattstirnkaiman
Name (Spanish) Yacaré coroa, Yacaré curua
Local names Brasil: Jacaré-coroa
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela
Habitat Freshwater forested riverine and flooded forests around larger lakes
Wild population Up to 1,000,000 in 2009 (Crocodilian 2012). Widespread and locally abundant
Zoo population 157 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo

Cuvier's Dwarf Caiman


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 42 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
BS Thurner Hof

Why do zoos keep this animal

The Cuvier's dwarf caiman is currently not threatened with extinction and zoos keep the species primarily for educational purposes and as an ambassador species for their threatened neotropical humid forest habitats. It is a small species and can be nicely presented to the public also by small zoos with a limited budget.