, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 21-34

An ecological study of Caiman crocodilus crocodilus inhabiting savanna lagoons in the Venezuelan Guayana

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Summary

Mark and recapture studies were carried out for three and a half years on a population of Caiman c. crocodilus inhabiting a savanna lagoon system in the Venezuelan Guayana. Sub-adult and adult caimans migrated from permanent lagoon refuges to temporary lagoons during the wet season. A distinct homing response by artificially displaced caimans was observed.

The wet season was the most significant time of the year for both feeding and growth. It was estimated that caimans take 6 years to reach a size of 97 cm. Thereafter the growth rate was variable. During a dry year there was little growth, but during a wet year a large caiman could increase in length by up to 10 cm.

During the first 18 months of life, young caimans remained near the nest site. Older caimans dispersed and competed for territories which resulted in a high incidence of damage, particularly to the tails, as a result of intraspecific fighting.