How to Take Care of A Caiman Lizard

The Caiman Lizard, also known as Northern Caiman Lizard and Dracaena guianensis, is a lizard with a stocky built and is well-adapted to life around and under water. They are endemic to South America, particularly around the Amazon River Basin in Brazil, Colombia, and Guyana to the west of Peru and Ecuador. Despite being a widespread lizard species, little information has been known about the Caiman Lizards. Even so, in this article, we will discuss all we know about Caiman Lizards so far and tips for keeping them as pets. Make sure to read further!


Back in the day, Caiman Lizards are hunted for their beautiful, colorful skin. Hunting is becoming prevalent, so locals sought protection to preserve them in the 1970s. Today, the export has dramatically decreased, and with the locals’ protection measures, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List has categorized them as Least Concern.

Characteristics of a Caiman Lizard

Average weight: 4.5 kg (10 lbs.)

Average length: 2 to 4 feet

Average life span: 10 years or longer in captivity

The Caiman Lizard’s most distinct feature is its unique color pattern. An adult Caiman Lizard possesses an olive to bright green body, with a red or orange-colored head. It has a thick, brownish to black tail that has yellow stripes. The Caiman Lizard is a sexually dimorphic species, meaning both sexes don’t have the same physical characteristics. A male Caiman Lizard has a broader head with brighter colors, whereas a female’s head is smaller with duller colors. Despite these dissimilarities, they are both covered in large, bony scales that resemble the skin of a Caiman, a crocodile species also found in South and Central America.

The Caiman Lizard spends the majority of its time in or near bodies of water. At nighttime, it hides in bushes and trees.

In the wild, Caiman Lizards inhabit swampy habitats and other wooded, flooded areas. They are excellent climbers who spend most of the time in the water. They love basking on tree branches that overhang over waterways so that they may flee from predation by jumping underwater. However, there is still a lot to be known about the habitat of these lizards. Much of what has been found out about them came from captive animals in aquariums, zoos, and homes of hobbyists.

Caring for a Caiman Lizard

In captivity, the Caiman Lizard may be a beautiful sight, but it can be challenging to take care of it. Their natural diet mainly consists of snails, and hobbyists find it hard to feed their Caiman Lizards with other organisms because they tend to be picky. On the other hand, farmed baby Caiman Lizards are much easier to look after. Hatchlings are more compliant to accepting other food sources other than snails. Even so, this does not make it generally easier to raise them in captivity. They have powerful jaws that can deliver painful bites, and their aquatic lifestyle demands a large tank or pool, places to dig burrows, and logs or other suitable materials with dry surfaces to bask on.

A young Caiman Lizard would need an enclosure that measures at least four feet by one foot and is approximately 2 feet tall, whereas an adult requires at least 6 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 4 feet tall. A large water area, land area, and plenty of spaces with climbing opportunities are also necessary inside the enclosure.

The Caiman Lizard is a tropical reptile. Daytime ambient temperatures must be set between 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The basking area should be placed around 100 degrees or higher (you can use a spot lamp for this). Its night time temperature should not drop below 75 degrees. Various heating techniques can be utilized to maintain the appropriate thermal gradient inside the enclosure. Since it spends most of its day basking, opt for a high-quality branch that is enough to hold the lizard’s weight. Not much is known about the Caiman Lizard’s UVB requirements, but providing one is highly recommended.

Caiman Lizards are known to feed on aquatic snails, but you can also try providing them other food items such as canned shrimps, superworms, crickets, and monitor food. They also take fruits like banana, kiwi, mango, and red banana. Supplements such as reptile multivitamin and calcium can be given weekly.