Geographical Range Southern Mexico to subtropical South America
Habitat Slow-moving rivers; backwaters of rivers, lakes, ponds, swamps
Scientific Name Caiman crocodilus
Conservation Status Common

This member of the crocodile family is known for its aggressive behavior. Even a small female will stand her ground when defending her nest. Caimans live in and around the streams, lakes and swamps throughout Central America and tropical South America. The young grow rapidly and mature in about five years -- half the time required for larger crocodilian species.

Though the spectacled caiman is common in many parts of its range, it has been totally wiped out in some localized areas. This is because the caiman, like most of its crocodilian cousins, has been heaviliy exploited for its hide. Millions have been killed for the exotic leather trade.

Did You Know?

The term "spectacled" in this animal's name comes from the bony ridges that surround its eyes and extend across the top of the muzzle.