Eating owls caimans

Black caiman hunting for prey again

The black caiman is the largest caiman of all. People fear him in the Amazon jungle. He was almost exterminated. Now he's coming back.

In most regions it was almost extinct until a few years ago. The black caiman was only found more frequently in Guyana. There the black caimans no longer showed up on open banks. They lived secluded in flooded forests or near lakes.

They feared the crocodile hunters.

The comeback of the greatest

But now the largest predators on the South American continent are returning. The black caimans (Melanosuchus niger) grow up to 6 meters long.

They are often camouflaged in the water. Then only her eyes protrude. They watch their prey with their strikingly large eyes. Like all crocodiles, their eyes have a perpendicular pupil. You can greatly expand these. Then more light catches the eye. Thus, the caiman is well equipped to hunt at night or in the twilight.

More about crocodiles and caimans at

Because the caimans are nocturnal. Adult animals crawl out of the water and flat across the ground in the dark. Then they look for larger animals, such as hunting capybaras.

Almost exterminated because of their leather

Black caimans mate in the dry season. The female then builds a hilltop from parts of the plant. This nest grows up to a meter and a half. The female caiman lays over 30 eggs in the nest. After ten weeks, the young hatch, guarded by the mother caiman.

In the 50s and 60s of the last century, hunters almost wiped out the black caimans. The crocodile skin was in great demand. At the time, very little was known about the black caimans. Only in the last few decades have naturalists been interested in these large crocodiles.

The Black Caiman (Mohrenkaiman) reproduces again mainly in protected areas. But there is a black market for his meat. Crocodile protectors mark the caimans and know in which waters they reproduce. The fishermen in the area will later be allowed to catch certain caimans for consumption.

Incredible: Jaguar grabs black caiman

It's unbelievable how a jaguar pulls a huge black caiman out of the river. First a jump from the bank into the water. The jaguar knows exactly where to grab. Then the dangerous caiman becomes a meal for the jaguar.

Wilhelm von Humboldt reports of a crocodile, apparently a black caiman, which reached a length of 7.22 meters. It had been washed up dead on the bank. Humboldt himself measured it. Apparently there were bigger caimans at the time. More often than the black caiman one encounters the spectacled caiman (Caiman yacare) in the Amazon. This lizard reaches no more than two and a half meters in length.

Photo credits:


  • Mark O┬┤Shea & Tim Halliday: Reptiles & Amphibians, Munich 2007
  • species lexicon