By Capt Peacock
Species Spotlight: Black Caiman
Reaching upwards of 20 feet in length and weights of over 800 pounds, the black caiman (Melanosuchus niger) is the largest predator and one of the largest animals in all of Brazil’s Amazon as well as one of the largest members of the family Alligatoridae. Its dark gray to black in color scaly skin is thought to act as camouflage during nocturnal hunts and to absorb and regulate heat during the day. The eyes are much larger than other crocodilian species and aid in hunting at night. The lower jaw is banded in gray and brown while the belly and flanks are pale yellow to white in color. It is an in-discriminant apex predator and will hunt and eat almost anything including fish, reptiles, birds, and even large mammals. Killing is done by ambush. Prey is either swallowed whole or stored underwater to rots until such times as it can be easily pulled apart.
It mates during the dry season with females building a nest mound on dry land to lay eggs.
Despite the black caiman’s size and predatory nature it goes out of its way to avoid man.