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 #1283960


13lizard13
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 Dwarf caiman care

well i am not thinking of getting one any time soon but i do want to get one of these guys when i am older but i have some questions

1. what is a good healthy diet

2. what is the minimum cage size for an adult

3. what is the average for cost

4. can they eat food live

i am 13 but before you people start yelling for being to young

again i am not thinking of getting one any time soon (my parents would never alow it)



05/16/07  10:35pm

 #1285062


GregoryHouse
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  Message To: 13lizard13   In reference to Message Id: 1283960


 Dwarf caiman care

Caimans and alligators are popular within the pet reptile hobby. Dwarf caimans are particularly popular due to their small adult size.
But are they a good pet?

You are URGED to read the Captive Care guide at CROCODILIAN.COM. This is written by Dr Adam Britton and includes contributions from many experienced croc keepers and vets. It covers all aspects of selecting a pet, housing it, feeding it, keeping it healthy, lights, heating, water, tank size etc.

The information Iíll give here is meant to be an adjunct to that captive care guide, targetting specific things that apply to Paleosuchus species. Iíll cover a few of the basics, but not in any great detail.

In answer to the question posed above (are they good pets?), I can say that crocodilians are long-lived, expensive to buy, MORE expensive to house, time-consuming to maintain the enclosure or tank, and are wild animals - so can be dangerous to handle. Any croc over about 2 feet long is capable of a painful bite - and they are QUICK!!!

They are not a novelty pet. How many times on the Herp Forums on the Web do you see people asking for someone to take an alligator off their hands, as itís either too big, or will be eventually. THEY ARE BIG BLOODY ANIMALS, WITH BIG TEETH!!!! If you arenít serious about crocodilians, then go to the zoo or buy a book, but leave the cute little thing in the pet store alone! As for the larger species, if you canít cope with this, then, again, leave them alone!

If you buy one, it is for the long term: you cannot take it back to the shop (usually), you canít just dispose of it in the local lake (itís against the law, cruel to the animal, threatening to native wildlife, and it is acts like this that cause councils to ban the ownership of exotic pets - hence ruining it for others that are more responsible!), and you canít just assume that someone else will buy it eg. a zoo (in fact, zoos will not generally buy a croc anyway - at best they will merely accept a donation). If you are a serious crocodilian lover, and can afford the expense in both time and money to care for and house an adult crocodilian, then you may consider getting one as a pet.

You MUST check out local laws, though. Sadly, some countries, states, councils etc do not allow crocs to be kept as pets. Similarly, some countries will only allow certain species. If youíre serious, and the law is on your side, then you need to decide what species you want. This means studying up on crocs and deciding which one is best for you. Check out crocodilian.com and the captive care guide for help here.


Costs
The cost of a dwarf or smooth-fronted caiman will vary. As a guide, in the UK, a baby Paleosuchus will set you back about £350 (about US $500). A larger one is about £600. In the US, the babies seem to be advertised for about $250 - $350.
Thatís just the start, though. Before purchase, youíll need to have the housing sorted out. This includes the cage or tank, furnishings, lights, heaters, and filters. Most places require a licence of some sort (in the UK you need a Dangerous Wild Animals licence). This means you probably need to be inspected by a vet and local council before a licence is granted - which means vet fees, and licence fees.

As the animal grows, it needs progressively larger enclosures. Perhaps insurance will need to be taken out as well. In the UK, at least, you need £1 million public liability insurance as part of the licencing agreement. Whilst this is usually included in normal house insurance, the insurance company has to supply a letter specifically stating that damage caused by a crocodilian IS covered.




Housing
Size
The size of the cage or enclosure depends on the size of the caiman. German laws will state that the land are needs to be 3 x SVL by 4 x SVL, whilst the water part is 4 x SVL by 5 x SVL. SVL = Snout-vent length - ie. length from the tip of the snout to the vent (or íbum holeí !). So, for an adult Paleosuchus that is about 4.5 feet long, youíd need a cage where the land was roughly 6ft by 8ft, and the water section was 8ft by 10 ft. Thatís pretty big, isnít it! Howís the living room looking now ?
Just for interest, here are some of the sizes as recommended by zoos:


Switzerland - minimum requirements for keeping wild animals (Animal Welfare Act of 1978)
Animal No. of Animals Land surface Water surface Water volume Additional Specimens - land Additional specimens - water
Paleosuchus & Osteolaemus 1 2.5m≤ 2.5m≤ 1m≥ 2.5m≤ 2.5m≤
Crocs and gators 1 4m≤ 4m≤ 2m≥ 4m≤ 4m≤

Swiss guidelines for keeping reptiles in breeding groups in zoo conditions (1979)
Species No. adults Land surface Water surface water volume Temp med (min/max)
Osteolaemus and Paleosuchus 1, 2 8m≤ 8m≤ 3m≥ 24 (21 / 30)

Data from European Breeding Operations (1990)
Zoo Overall size Water:land ratio pool depth
Cologne (P. palpebrosus) 6m≤ 3:1 1.2m


P trigonatus. Photo by Myron Wiebe.


Features:
From the Ecology section, we know that both Paleosuchus spend time in burrows, and beneath tree limbs, overhanging vegetation etc. You should therefore provide them with equivalents in captivity.
On the land section, this could be with plants or logs etc. In the water, a piece of cork bark can be left floating for the caiman to lie beneath, and hide behind. Iíve always had the land section extend over part of the water. In this manner, the caimans can lie in the water beneath the shelf without submerging.

If you keep the caimans with a bark chip etc substrate, or they are kept outside (because you live in a nice, warm climate), then remember that both Paleosuchus species may decide to have a dig around. So take precautions against them either escaping or harming themselves due to this behaviour.

Youíll often hear that trigonatus requires just a large dish for water, since it is mainly terrestrial. I donít subscribe to this view. The migration of trigonatus is probably responsible for this perception - but it isnít going to migrate very far in captivity! Indeed, some authors conclude that P trigonatus is adapted better for an aquatic life than, say, Caiman crocodilus. Remember, captivity is always going to be a compromise as far as natural habitat goes.

Itís best to provide them with decent-sized water and land sections. If theyíre kept in tanks with only a dish as the water, then chances are, they will spend most of their time hidden away in a corner of the tank. This shouldnít be taken as a preference for a terrestrial lifestyle!


Heating
Paleosuchus are both tropical creatures, so provide them with tropical temperatures. They are also reptiles, so they use the environmental conditions to thermoregulate (ie. control their body temp.). The above indicates immediately that temperatures in the high 20ís celsius should be provided, with a gradient of temperatures slightly above and below in which they can thermoregulate. If you aim at a high of about 33į C and a low of 24 - 25įC within the enclosure, youíll have a íthermally-happyí caiman. It can select the temperature it prefers.
The water temperature should be about 25 - 27įC for Paleosuchus.

A basking lamp is the best way to provide the daytime environmental temperatures. Whilst trigonatus is rarely reported to bask, it still need the higher temperatures to thermoregulate. P palebrosus basks - mine both spend a good amount of time under the basking lamp! With trigonatus, perhaps the provision of some plant cover will allow it to reach optimum temperatures without openly basking.

I donít think the importance of UV lighting has been decided for crocodilians, yet. Since both Paleosuchus spend time in burrows or retreats during the day in the wild, and donít spend as much time in the open during the day as other species, perhaps their UV requirements are not that great. However, full spectrum UV is vital for formation of D vitamins in most animals, and Paleosuchus do NOT live in total darkness, so I think itís safe to say that they do benefit from UV. Whatever the ultimate findings are, a UV light should be provided for any captive crocodilian kept indoors (if only on the basis that it canít hurt!).


P. trigonatus and dinner! Photo by Myron Wiebe.

Feeding
From the ecology section, we determined that Paleosuchus, like almost all crocodilians, are rather oportune when it comes to their favourite dinner. Most keepers base the diet on appropriately-sized rodents (eg. rat pups). You should try to offer your caimans a bit of variety, too. Say once every 3 or 4 feeds, give them some beef, sprinkled with a decent vitamin/mineral supplement (that has calcium in it!!).
Occasionally, I give mine some fish, or some crickets - just for some variety. Just make sure that the main part of the diet includes whole animals with bones - like the rat pups. This ensures that the caimans are getting the calcium they need. Once a week or so, include the vitamin/mineral mix. Basing a diet on fish has proven to be unsuccessful for captive crocs, and offering just flesh (ie. chnks of beef) is not good for them. Whole animals!

Feeding frequency isnít straight forward! Mine are fed every 2 days, but they only get 2 rat pups each. They are currently 3 foot long. You can feed yours every 3 of 4 days, but give them a bit more. The quantity can be judged by the growth of the caimans. Check the base of their tail, the sides of their tummy, and the neck area. All should be full, but not buldging disproportionately. If these areas start to become hollow-looking, increase either the frequency or amount of feeding.

Dwarf caimans will learn the íritualí in feeding. They will anticipate it, and readily jump for the food. After getting a nip on the finger by a leaping caiman, I now use plastic tongs for feeding. They jump up and take the food almost before itís over the tank. So watch the fingers!



Baby dwarfs are almost famous for poor feeding. Iíve lost one to this, and itís not much more fun for the keeper as it is for the poor little caiman. Upon buying a young Paleosuchus (under about 20"), ensure that itís been wormed etc. Donít try to handle it too much, and let it settle in. Donít hound it around the tank with food, as it may associate the food with an unpleasant experience. Leave the food on the land portion of the cage. Try feeding it live crickets - the movement may start the feeding reflex. With insects such as crickets, ígut loadí them first, so the caiman gets a decent meal with vitamins and minerals (ie calcium) from what ordinarily has little of these things. Make sure the little fellow is not in an area where thereís lots of people walking past. These little things get stressed very easily! Often, having a second caiman around kicks the other into eating with a bit more enthusiasm. Rest assured that once they are used to you and their surroundings, itís hard to STOP them eating.

If the problem persists, contact a vet that is familiar with crocodilians - particularly caimans, and Paleosuchus if possible (which is probably unlikely !).


Behaviour
Based mainly on my experience with palpebrosus, Iíve noted the following:
palpebrosus will get to recognise individual people. They know who feeds them, and will swim over to that person - especially at dinner time. Since mine are fed of an evening, they associate this time with feeding - making it awkward to clean their tank at this time! If I approach them at this time, they assume foodís coming - a shame if itís not a feeding night! They particularly associate my walking from the room where their dinner is prepared with feeding time! Again, a shame for the dear little things if itís not their night to be fed!
Itís important to realise this, though, since anything placed over (or in) the tank of an evening is considered food, and will be snapped at - including hands.
Care must be taken. Though itís nice that they are happy to feed from my hands (or tongs), they do jump, and they do tend to be fairly aggressive at feeding. Iím careful that they donít bite either me, or each other. Once you know your caimans, then this becomes easier.
Mine do NOT like to be picked up! However, their reaction is to try and swim away, rather than try to bite me. Once firmly grabbed, they tend to settle down - a bit, anyway. They are more resigned to the fact than happy about it. I donít go near their jaws, but use this time to examine them for injuries, fungal growth, or any other abnormalities.
Whilst I donít know of any tame Paleosuchus, I wouldnít say that it was impossible. A lot of handling from an early age would be required. Since over-handling can cause stress, itís a difficult proposition. Alligators seem more tolerant of handling than caimans or crocs.
Donít be concerned to see them scratch themselves. They usually use their rear legs to gives themselves a good scratch on the head, jaws, or even their sides and tail. If they are scratching constantly, then check them out for parasites, and check the water quality.
Paleosuchus will often leave the water at night - even when evening temperatures are quite low. Donít worry, they know what theyíre doing (as long as the water isnít freezing!).


Breeding
Please refer to the REPRODUCTIONsection for a detailed treatment of reproduction in Paleosuchus species. Below is a summary of some of the main points to keep in mind if you are planning to breed either species.
In Cologne Zoo, the following can be noted:

Clutch size: 1st clutch - 11 eggs; later ones from 6 - 18 eggs.
Egg size: 60 -80 mm x 35-45 mm, and 67 - 93g.
Incubation material: vermiculite.
Inc temp: 29įC
Inc time: 114 days; later 99 - 147 days by varying temp from 27 - 31įC.
Size of hatchlings: 20 - 24cm, usually 23cm, and 46 - 55 g.
Growth rate:
3 mths: 30cm, 95g.
6 mths: 35cm, 150g.
12mths: 42cm, 250g.
2 yrs: 53cm, 570g.
4 yrs: 77cm, 4 kg.
8 yrs: 94cm, 3.6 kg.
12 yrs: 90cm, 6.1 kg. (I think this is for a female - so it is smaller).
20 yrs: 118cm, 11.5 kg.
Another author, LŁthi, reports the following:

Temps: water: 25 -27C air: 26 - 28C
Size: 90cm female, 100 cm male
Cage size: 400 x 120 x 60 cm (1/4 land area)
Clutch size: 9 eggs.
Inc temp: 29C
Inc material: sand and wood shavings
Inc time: approx 105 days.
Note that the records of successful captive breeding that I have read have incorporated a seasonal temperature variation. Those that breed outdoors are naturally exposed to varying seasonal temperatures. Those that have bred indoors have had a lower Winter temperature than in Summer. Whether this is an important factor in successful breeding, I donít know - but it makes sense, and is noted in many species of animals



05/17/07  09:06pm

 #1285066


GregoryHouse
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  Message To: GregoryHouse   In reference to Message Id: 1285062


 Dwarf caiman care

by the way this IS copy and paste i am just to lazy to write all this out (i know it all anyway)


check out crocodilian. com



05/17/07  09:09pm

 #1285156


13lizard13
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  Message To: GregoryHouse   In reference to Message Id: 1285066


 Dwarf caiman care

well i checked out crocodilian. com it is a really good site

and dont worry im very serios about my pets and will cover any thing the animal needs

happy pet = happy me



05/17/07  10:24pm

 #1285775


GregoryHouse
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  Message To: 13lizard13   In reference to Message Id: 1285156


 Dwarf caiman care

happy i could help



05/18/07  03:01pm

 #2077053


Mido
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  Message To: GregoryHouse   In reference to Message Id: 1285062


 Dwarf caiman care

how big to dwarf caimans grow up to? was all that info only for dwarf caimans?



09/27/09  12:32am

 #2094337


RePtIcMoNiTeR
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  Message To: Mido   In reference to Message Id: 2077053


 Dwarf caiman care

with what ive read so far about caimans most care sheets/fact sheets are for almost all of them with small variations for each species such as certain ones like more water than land and others like more land than water, correct me if im wrong



11/11/09  10:10am

 #2132989


ScrubLizard
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  Message To: Mido   In reference to Message Id: 2077053


 Dwarf caiman care

there are two species of dwarf caimans

P.P. = 3-5ft
P.T. = 4-6ft

idk the scientific names, just what letters they start with



03/15/10  10:43am


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