Dwarf Caiman vs. Alligator

Difference Between Dwarf Caiman And Alligator Dwarf Caiman The dwarf caiman is one of the world’s smallest crocodilians,…

Difference Between Dwarf Caiman And Alligator

Dwarf Caiman

The dwarf caiman is one of the world’s smallest crocodilians, an order of animals that includes alligators and crocodiles. Yet, this petite brown-eyed alligator deserves respect. When cornered, a dwarf caiman can deliver a nasty wound with a quick snap of its large, tooth-studded mouth.

The dwarf caiman wears the toughest armor of any species in the caiman family. The horny scales on its body are reinforced on the belly and back by bony plates. The armor can deflect the attack of any natural predator. However, this is little protection against the rifles used by hunters, who kill these creatures in great numbers.

The caiman’s strong armor may have developed as protection from the sharp rocks and river debris in the fast-flowing jungle streams of South America. As it rides the rapids over stony riverbeds, the dwarf caiman is often violently tossed about in the shallow water.

Like other alligators and caimans, this species has been hunted for its hide, as well as for the pet trade. In the past two decades, hunters harvested a particularly large number of caimans. Laws now forbid the capture of endangered alligators, but the dwarf caiman is not on the endangered list. Biologists are concerned that the creature may be harmed both by overhunting and by the destruction of its jungle habitat.


Alligator, either of two nontropical crocodilian reptiles—the American alligator and the Chinese alligator. One of the giant crocodilian species, it reaches an average length of 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 meters), but it can be as long as 19 feet (6 meters). A. mississippiensis has webbed fingers and has no trace of bones in the skin of the ventral surface of the body. The number of teeth in its upper jaw is at least equal to that found in the lower jaw.

The Chinese species (A. sinensis), which is critically endangered, is confined to the lower Yangtze Valley. Its average length is only 4 to 4.5 feet (1.2 to 1.4 meters). The Chinese form has unwebbed fingers and small bones in the scutes (large scales) of its ventral skin. There is one more tooth in its upper jaw than in its lower jaw.


Both species of alligator have a gland on the right and the left side of the lower jaw, near the corner of the mouth. The gland secretes, through slitlike pores, an odorous, musky fluid that attracts the opposite sex during mating season. The males of the American species utter thunderous roars during the spring, when mating takes place, and engage in combat with one another. Competition ends when the loser retreats.


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