Yacare Caiman

(Caiman yacare)

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Graham Amazon Gallery
IUCN Conservation Status
Least Concern (LC)


Still water (marshlands and lakes) and slow-flowing rivers/Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil


Size: 5 to 10 ft. • Weight: Up to 128 lbs.

The Yacare Caiman is a species of crocodile that have been around for a long, long time – we’re talking upwards of 23 million years. These “living dinosaurs” are known for their distinctive, ridged scales and powerful jaws. They're opportunistic predators, which means they'll eat pretty much anything they can get their jaws around. From fish, to birds, to small mammals (and even fruit), these crocs aren't picky eaters. But don't worry! Despite their fearsome appearance, they're actually quite docile toward humans. Well, as long as you don't get too close to their eggs…

Those distinctive scales we mentioned aren't just for show – they help them camouflage with their surroundings. These crafty crocs can blend in so well that you might not even notice them…When they’re not hiding or sunbathing, Yacare Caimans are also expert swimmers that glide through water  with ease thanks to their streamlined bodies and powerful tails. Unlike other crocodilians, they have a special gland in their mouths that filters out excess salt so they can live in brackish water (a mix of saltwater and freshwater) without getting dehydrated. They can swim up to 20 miles per hour, making them some of the fastest swimmers in the animal kingdom. They're like the Michael Phelps of the wetlands… but with a lot more teeth.

Get up close with this fierce predator in the Vancouver Aquarium’s Graham Amazon Gallery.

Things To Know



Graham Amazon Gallery

Experience the extraordinary diversity and interdependence of aquatic and terrestrial life in the Amazon as you walk through a re-creation of South America’s tropical rainforest.

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