This detailed, comprehensive guide on caiman lizard care will teach you about their terrarium parameters, health, diet, behavior, and more!
Caiman lizard belongs to the reptile family and is an exciting pet. The biological name of the caiman lizard is Dracaena guianensis. They are well suited to the wet climate and labeled as a water tegu. It’s a semiaquatic lizard found in South America (Ecuador, Columbia, Paraguay, Peru, and Brazil).
Caiman lizards have a very distinctive skin. It was an endangered species in the past due to the skin’s unique quality, but protection was given in 1970. They are now rescued from the danger of extinction. During the day, these semiaquatic lizards forage, hidden at night in trees and bushes. Most of their time is spent on branches in the water or basking.
Farmed or captive caiman lizards are available because they are listed in Appendix II and protected by (CITES: Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species). Small pet shops do not have them because they require a specific enclosure area but are available via internet tools and reptile specific stores at a fair price.
These animals should survive in captivity for ten years or more with adequate care.
Caiman Lizard Appearance
Caiman lizards are a very large lizard in America. Females can grow to four feet (2 m), males can reach a height of 5 feet (5 m) and reach a weight of 8 to 20 pounds (8-12 kg).
The color of a caiman lizard body is bright green to olive green (light green banding). Some are also available in bluish-green color. The tail of the lizard is dark brown while the head is red to orange colored.
Caiman Lizard Morphs
The body of the Caiman lizard has little similarity with the crocodile. It has a massive and strong limb with broad head in males. It has a thick, flat tail that helps the lizard to propulsion through water easily.
The eyes have a flat, third eyelid called a nictitating membrane. It closes as the animal submerges which protects the eyes. It also assists with underwater vision.
Caiman Lizard Terrarium Requirements
Caiman lizards are hard to keep in captivity because of their natural food (snails and wildlife). By the time it reaches four or more feet, these pets will need a greater enclosure, unlike adults. The young Caiman lizards should have a fenced area measuring at least four feet by one foot and two meters long (55 liters).
An adult should have a fence around at least 6 m (meter) long, 3m wide and 4m high. Large water areas should be available for these lizards and land areas and a large standing area with potential for climbing.
Caiman lizards need a warm temperature as they’re a tropical species. During the day, the ambient temperature should be between 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit while the basking area’s temperature should be around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The temperature of the cage during the night should not be below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Various heating elements, such as ceramic heat emitters and infrared heat lamps, are used in the caiman enclosure to monitor the temperature gradient.
The branch used in the enclosure should be sturdy enough to keep the lizard secure, so the lizard spends a day in the enclosure to get the right amount of light. Apart from the natural light source, UVA and UVB lighting are also used inside the enclosure to prevent various vitamin D3 deficiency problems and severe metabolic bone disease.
UVA lighting inside can also promote feeding and breeding behavior. To keep Caiman lizard safe, UVA access, UVB, and maximum clear sunshine should be provided over a daytime duration of 12-14 hours.
The humidity level of the enclosure should be maintained between 60-80 percent. Different types of substrates will aid in maintaining humidity like eco earth mosses and forest floor. An automatic mist system is available to control the humidity level to keep that system to provide perfect humidity. It can also improve the humidity by increasing the water supply over a wide area and adding organic plants.
A variety of different substrates can be used. You can use a combination of mulch and clean sand to stabilize the tropics’ high humidity. This also allows your pet to dig! A reptile manufacturer’s earth substrate can also be used.
Plants and Decorations
Some plants are used in the enclosure to provide a natural environment. Artificial plants can also be used for shade. Different strong climbing branches around or over large water areas are used. Wide branches of cork or wood (mopani) may be partly put in water to form basking areas.
It is highly recommended to use the firm or strong branches and plants because the caiman may break live plants. This lizard climbs and digs so it could knock over unsecured cage decorations. It is necessary to provide strong plants.
As large water of depth 12″ is provided for adult caiman and they can produce waste inside water, it is mandatory to clean the watery area to prevent gastrointestinal problems. Dirty water and enclosure can lead to various health problems. To extract sediment collected within the gravel, aquarium gravel cleaners may be used, and an under gravel cleaner can be a useful instrument.
There is also a need for periodic water changes (every 1 to 2 weeks). By siphoning/filtering it out, or as part of a broader cleaning of the whole enclosure, water may be altered.
While Caiman lizards are not naturally aggressive, they can need some preparation to be manageable. These animals tend to be very intelligent and adapt quickly. Many keepers have been successful in teaching their Caiman lizards to be tamed. With frequent treatment, some can be very tame, while others will never really learn to love being carried.
Caiman Lizard Health
If you provide your pet with suitable enclosure atmosphere (temperature, moisture content, proper hygiene, and food), their chances of getting any health issues will be low (such as Paramyxovirus). Yet often, after all the required criteria have been fulfilled, there can also be health issues.
Therefore, monthly fecal samples should be checked by a vet to estimate any health issues. Some common health hazards are still present like anorexia, cuts/wounds, eye infection, ear infection, stuck shed, and lethargy.
Healthy Signs – To determine that your pet is healthy or not, assess its eating activity and regular basking practice, and inspect the skin and limbs. Temperature, humidity, and light measurement of the habitat will also help you examine any potential disease of your reptile. The color of the skin can also be noted.
Caiman Lizard Food & Diet
The Caiman lizard loves snail food. Obviosuly they eat other food too! In captivity, lizards feed on several species, including snails in a can, canned shrimps, worms, crickets, and Tegu canned food. Fruits such as kiwi, pineapple, strawberry, popcorn, and red bananas could also be donated. Add food per week with multivitamin and mineral supplement two times a week. Food may be eaten in a cup, but some lizards are happier to serve with food tongs.
Behavior & Temperament
Although caiman lizards get energetic and excited during feeding, they spend much of their time basking in the heat. As temperatures increase, they’re cooled off by a quick dip in water. After, they’re back into the sun. Once nighttime occurs, they are known to stay in branches and hide at night to sleep.
Caiman Lizard FAQ
With a little effort, they’re easy to take care of. Not easy to deal with, the caiman lizard is a beautiful display animal.
Caiman lizard is very smart because they can learn quickly, even though they love handling and feeding time.
Excluded feeding day, you can at least take care of your pet at least once a day. If you miss the day due to a busy schedule, then at least take care of your pet two or three times a week to make it calm with you properly. You can start with just 10-15 minutes at first, then increase the average by time.
They’ve got a potentially unpleasant bite. Wear gloves when managing to prevent any unwanted occurrence.
Caiman lizards are recommended as a pet, not because they are easy to treat, but they are a beautiful colorful species. It is the right pet for mainly hobby keeper reptiles. But when having a lizard as a pet, remember one thing: it is a wild animal, not your baby puppy. So, take care of their nature and behavior. If you provide your pet with a natural, sustainable environment, it will be very comfortable. Caiman lizards are stunning reptiles for pets that can be enjoyable, cooperative pets for a devoted lover. With the lizard lover having time and money to use, it will be very satisfying to keep. Hopefully you have learned about caiman lizad care and are ready to make your pet happy!