Caiman Lizard (Dracaena)

October 29, 2013 by  

Caiman Lizard (Dracaena), The genus Dracaena ( “female dragon”), also called Caiman Lizards or water tegu, is in the teiid family, along with tegus and ameivas. Caiman lizards are found in South America in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Brazil. These lizards spend a lot of time in the water and they inhabit marshes, streams and flooded forests. Caiman lizards often bask on branches overhanging the water.

The Caiman Lizard is built similarly to its cousin the tegu, with a large heavy set body and short but powerful limbs. Its head is bulky and often a red or orange color. Their jaws are heavily muscular to help aid in eating its normal prey of snails, crawfish and fresh water clams. It also has a few adaptations that help it in its watery habitat. It has a long, laterally flattened tail, similar to its name sake, the Yacare Caiman. The long tail helps the Caiman Lizard to successfully swim and dive. It also has a clear third eyelid which is thought to act like a pair of goggles underwater. The coloration of the Northern caiman lizard (Dracaena guianensis) is very similar to that of a crocodile. It is typically a bright green with slight dark green banding.

The Paraguayan caiman lizards (Dracaena paraguayensis) are typically much more drab, with gray bodies and heads. There are tough raised scutes along the dorsal portion of the back. These give the caiman lizard a crocodilian appearance, and help to provide some protection against predators. These lizards can become up to 4 feet long and weigh up to 10 lbs.

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