We’ve all seen a speed boat, but what about a speed-o-dile? Caimans, a relative of the crocodile, fit the exact description of just that. These deft swimmers can achieve speeds of up to 25 MPH, over four times as fast as a human in the water. For example, the video below features a prime spectacle of a top speed caiman blasting through the waves. The boat holding the cameraman almost seems like it’s having a hard time catching up!
Honestly, these quick reptiles have quite a bit of interesting variety to them, both in characteristics and preferences. Basically, a caiman for any shape and size you can think of! From the populous yacare to the huge black caiman, these creatures don’t disappoint.
Double-check your life vest and let’s race to find out more about these diverse critters. Just make sure not to mistake them for a crocodile – while similar, there are quite a few differences!
Where Does the Caiman Live?
All of the different species of caiman can be found throughout the Americas, mostly in Mexico, and Central and South America. Despite being native to those areas, many of them have been introduced to other regions, as well. More than adaptable and easily capable of being an apex predator, caimans can swiftly establish dominance. However, this doesn’t always spell well for our scaly friends, as certain places like Florida consider them quite invasive. On a similar note, did you know caimans were once endangered? Don’t worry, proper conservation has reversed that nowadays!
The croc with the widest range is the spectacled caiman, seen throughout Latin America, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and even the United States. Furthermore, one species, the yacare, boasts a population of over 10 million within Brazil. Unsurprisingly, that’s regarded as the largest single crocodilian habitat in existence. It’s obvious that these flexible animals are also a bit of nature’s show offs!
What’s With Caimans and Capybaras?
So, we know a bit more about the cunning caiman, but what is all of this about capybaras? Let’s make one thing clear, which is that caimans certainly eat anything that fits in their mouth. Sometimes, though, the world’s largest rodent will show up alongside caimans and not be considered dinner. Although an oddity of nature and not a guaranteed occurrence, it seems as if it can happen from time to time.
Why, though? Well, one thought is that capybaras are rather huge, and might not make a quick snack. This is even more likely if other, easier to gobble up animals are plentiful nearby. Another weird concept is that capybaras might be helpful to keep around, as they are alert to potential threats. Admittedly very strange, seeing that caimans should trigger that alarm. However, even larger predators like pumas and jaguars frequent similar habitats, so the logic might even out at the end of the day!
Catch a Glimpse for Yourself
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Russell Smith / Flickr / Original
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