Saturday 29 February, 2020

Watch: Christmas caimans in Central Trinidad

As Christmas approaches, caimans seem to be emerging more frequently.

Conservationist and director of the El Socorro Centre for Wildlife Conservation, Ricardo Meade, shared two social media posts showing two caimans in the Central area, which he was called in to rescue and relocate. 

 

The animals were found in drains near to residents' homes in Chaguanas and in Bamboo Village.

The animals may have strayed from their habitats following heavy showers which fell in parts of the country over the past few weeks. 

Meade said the animals were bathed and safely relocated.

The spectacled caiman, which is native to Trinidad and Tobago is often confused with the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) and American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus).

Spectacled caimans like muddy freshwater environments such as swamps, lakes, roadside ditches, rivers, and marshes, however they are also able to endure brackish and saline environments

They are reclusive, solitary creatures and only leave their water sources due to natural factors such as drought or man-made factors such as loss of habitat.  

They can grow to between two and 2.5 meters long while in rare instances some can grow to an astonishing 3.5 metres.

Young caimans are yellow in colour and black crossbars are seen on their bodies. On the backs of some animals, dark patches are noticed along with the presence of dark coloured rings on some of their tails.

Their bodies are heavily armoured and covered with scales. Their ridged tails are powerful and perfectly adapted to help with swimming. 

The hind legs of the spectacled caiman are larger (five digits) than their front (four partly webbed digits) and their extremely powerful jaws are packed with teeth which are not seen while its mouth is closed, another factor that distinguishes it from the American crocodiles.

Caimans are also able to alter their colour in colder weather, a result of the expanding of the black pigment cells found in their skin. 

Anyone who finds wildlife on their properties is urged to call the Emperor Valley Zoo, or the Wildlife and Environmental Protection of Trinidad and Tobago (WEPTT) on 341-9983, or the El Soccoro Centre for Wildlife Conservation on 366-4369. 

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