Caiman latirostris (*)
Caiman latirostris Daudin, 1802
*  Listed animal in CITES Appendix I except the population of Argentina, which is in Appendix II
The broad-snouted caiman (Caiman latirostris) is a crocodilian reptile found in eastern and central South America, including southeastern Brazil, northern Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia. It is found mostly in freshwater marshes, swamps, and mangroves. Usually, in still or very slow moving waters. It will often utlize human made cow ponds.
In the wild it will normally grow to 2 meters, however few males have been recorded to reach up to 3.5 meters. Most tend to be of a light olive-green color. A few individuals will have spots on their face. The most notable physical characteristic is its broad snout from which its name is derived. The snout is well adapted to rip through the dense vegetation of the marshes. Due to this they will swallow some of the dense vegetation, while foraging for food.
Its diet consists mainly of small invertebrates, and it can crush shells to feed on turtles and snails. As the size of the Caiman laitrostris increases the size of its prey tends to increase. All broad-snouted caiman will have a diet consisting of mostly insects however, as the caiman grows it will increase its intake of birds, fish, and reptiles.
As all other reptiles, the Broad-snouted caiman is ectothermic, it depends on its external environment to regulate its body temperature. A recent study has been done on the heart rate's contribution to the regulation of the Caimans' body temperature. The results showed an increase in heart rate as the temperature increased, and that it would lower once the temperature lowered. The heat of the sun is absorbed through the skin into the blood, keeping its body temperature up. An increased heart rate helps the newly absorbed heat transfer throughout the body more quickly. When the air becomes cooler there would be no need for the temperature becomes cooler there would be no need for the heart rate to remain at an increased speed.
The Broad-snouted Caiman female will lay 18 to 50 eggs at a time. While rare, up to 129 eggs have been found within a single nest. This is presumably from several leyings. They will lay their eggs in two layers. There is a slight temperature difference between the two layers. This will result in a more even ratio of males and females. This occurs because the Caiman does not have a pair of sex chromosomes, but instead depends on temperature to determine the ratio of male and female offspring. The warmer it is the eggs will develop females and the cooler temperatures will develop males. The temperature difference needed for this varies by only one degree, 32 degrees Celsius and above the eggs will become female, 31 degrees Celsius and bellow they will become male.
Hunting of the species began in the 1940's. It's skin is greatly valued for its smooth texture. Until recently this was the largest threat to the Broad-snouted caiman. However, most countries have made hunting them illegal, which had helped them to regain their population. The new threat is habitat destruction. Deforestation and pollution run-off are the two leading causes to the destruction of their habitat.
1. ^ Crocodile Specialist Group (1996). Caiman latirostris. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006.
Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License