Black caimans are the largest alligators in the Americas. Young black caimans rely heavily on aquatic crustaceans for food, especially crabs and crayfish. Adults eat fish, such as catfish and piranhas, and often take large rodents called capybaras that live along the banks of rivers. At night, they may hunt on land, taking advantage of their excellent hearing and sense of sight to track large animals, which may include livestock and even humans.
As their name suggests, black caimans have dark bodies. They have grey-brown bands on their lower jaws. The young have yellow or white bands on their flanks, which fade as they age.
Breeding takes place during the dry season, presumably to reduce the chance that the eggs become submerged while they incubate. The females build nest mounds that are about 1.5 m (5 ft) high. The nest mounds are built in a variety of places, some concealed, others in the open. Each female digs a conical hole in her nest and lays 30 - 65 eggs in the top. They hatch about three months later, at the beginning of the wet season.
Distribution: Northern South America.
Habitat: Rivers and flooded forests.
Food: Fish, capybaras and other aquatic vertebrates.
Size: 4 - 6 m (13 - 19.75 ft).
Maturity: 5 - 10 years.
Breeding: Eggs laid in nest during dry season.
Life span: 40 years.
Status: Lower risk.