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Caïman nain de Cuvier © MNHN - F-G Grandin

The cuvier's dwarf caiman

The dwarf caimans of the Zoological Park of Paris belong to a forest species of French Guiana, Paleosuchus palpebrosus.


Class, order and family :
Sauropsida, crocodilia, alligatoridae
Lifespan :
up to 25 years (60 in captivity)
Height & weight :
1.20 to 1.60 m for males and up to 7 kg
Gestation :
incubation approximately 90 days
Natural habitat :
wetlands, rivers
Diet :
carnivore, piscivore
Native region :
South America
Statut UICN : 

Least concern (LC)


This animal lives in a covered environment which receives very little sun. Given that they live in water which is always warm, they don’t need water to thermo-regulate, and spend most of their time in their pool.

Distinctive features

Caiman, crocodile, alligator and gharial belong to the same group but are different species that do not live on the same continents. Caimans and alligators have broad heads and U-shaped snouts, while crocodiles have thinner, V-shaped snouts.

The Paris Zoological Park is taking part in in situ research projects on several caimans in French Guiana. For example, a study is being carried out in French Guiana in the Nouragues reserve to analyse the structure and genetic diversity of this population, and to study their behaviour and biology. We are also measuring their mercury contamination, as they are at the end of the food chain, concentrating toxic elements and therefore acting as indicators of water quality.