Snakes as prey of Cuvier’s Dwarf Caiman (Paleosuchus palpebrosus: Alligatoridae), with a new observation from central Amazonia, Brazil

Diogo Dutra Araújo


Here, we described a diet record for Dwarf caiman, Paleosuchus palpebrosus, which is one of the smallest and most secretive species of crocodilians in the world. Information its their natural history and ecology is still scarce (Magnusson and Campos, 2010). Throughout its geographic range, P. palpebrosus occupies a wide variety of habitats, such as flooded forests, canals, rivers, lakes and even roadside borrow pits. Because different habitats have different prey availability, the diet of the species is expected to vary regionally (Magnusson, 1985; Campos et al., 2010; Magnusson and Campos, 2010 op.cit.). Based on the known diet for other Amazonian caiman species (Da Silveira and Magnusson, 1999; Magnusson et al., 1987) we could expectP. palpebrosus to have an opportunistic-generalist diet, though, the variety of prey consumed and the feeding behavior is poorly known (Botero-Arias, 2007; Campos et al., 1995). We captured a Cuvier´s Dwarf Caiman preying on a Neckband Ground-Snake, Atractus torquatus (Dipsadidae), in lower Purus River, central Amazonia, Brazil. The caiman (male, 50 cm SVL, 95 cm TL, 2.8 kg) was captured 25 March 2013 in a seasonally flooded forest located on the southern bank of the Purus River (4°16'3" S; 61°43'52" W, WGS84, ELE. = 60 m). The caiman had a snake (male, 48 cm TL) in its mouth, which was almost intact and was preserved in 10% formalin and deposited in the herpetological section of the Zoological Collection of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Manaus, Brazil (INPA-H 33818). During night surveys in the same region in August 2014, we observed two additional P. palpebrosus holding snakes in their mouths, suggesting that this food type may consumed frequently. 


Caimans; Diet; Amazon

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