Spectacled Caiman… Seems to Be Wearing a Pair of Glasses

Reserva Playa Tortuga - #costaballenalovers #ballenatales #magazine #issue38

by Breanna Ondich

The Guajipal

At night, in rivers, estuaries, lagoons, paddy fields, and even large puddles along the southern zone, with the help of a lantern you can spot a pair of red eyes floating on the water and disappearing quickly as they feel your presence.

This alligator is known as the “guajipal” and he owns the wetlands; mevertheless, it is a noble and shy animal, harmless to humans. The Caiman crocodilus is one of the two crocodilian species of Costa Rica. This reptile is also known as Spectacle Caiman, due to a fold of skin connecting the eyes in the middle of the forehead, resembling a “pair of glasses.”

The Caiman does not reach the size of other crocodilian species; however, it can grow up to two meters when reaching adulthood. The largest specimen observed during the studies taking place in Reserva Playa Tortuga at the Balso river was one meter fifty.

Because of its elusive and shy personality, alligators prefer to run away than attack, often diving and splashing in the water to confuse the predator.
During the day, they rest and sunbathe around the ponds, and at night, they feed on fish, frogs, river turtles, crabs, small mammals, and birds. They are stalkers by nature, using their camouflage to capture prey.

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