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Lézard Caïman © François-Gilles Grandin - MNHN

The northern caiman or dracaena lizard

The northern caiman lizard, also called dracaena, Dracaena guianensis, is one of the largest lizards on the American continent.


Class, order and family :
Reptilia, Squamata, Teiidae
Life span :
up to 30 years in captivity
Size & Weight :
60 - 120 cm and 1.5 – 2.7 kg
Incubation period :
3 - 6 months for around ten eggs
Natural habitat :
near streams
Diet :
Native region :
Guyana, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Brazil
Statut UICN : 

Least Concern (LC)


An arboreal animal, it spends the day in water and hides in the trees at night. An excellent swimmer, this large lizard looks like a small caiman and feeds on crustaceans and particularly snails.

Distinctive features

This species used to be hunted for its skin. Fortunately, since the 1970s, trafficking has fallen thanks to the introduction of protection measures.


At the Parc Zoologique de Paris, it is fed brown snails, the same ones which grace restaurant tables.