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Sixteenth-century naturalists left records of the giant Caribbean caiman, a reptile up to 40 feet long. It is hard to believe how terrifying this monster was! This reptile was an amphibian that could live in the sea, rivers, lakes, and swamps. The caiman could hunt on land, go for long periods without water, and breathe air. Today, there are a few dozen species of these reptiles in the world, found in tropical parts of Africa, Asia, Australia, and Central America. But they are no more than 20 feet long, smaller than the caiman was a few hundred years ago.
The caiman was a cunning predator. The reptile would lie motionless on the sandy shore for hours, pretending to be a fallen tree and waiting for thirsty animals to come and drink water.
Before the hunt, the caiman would fill its belly with round river stones to make itself heavy enough to drag its prey into the water. It would then wait for the carcass to decompose before devouring it. Once the caiman attacked a pirate who was washing a tent in the river. The pirate mortally wounded the reptile with his machete and found about ten round stones in its belly.
The caiman was also stealing prey from the hunters. After hearing the shots, the reptile hid in the grass, grabbed the killed animal, and ran back to the water with its prey.
In May, female caimans lay their eggs on the sandy banks. They cover the eggs with sand and leave them there until they hatch. When the baby caimans hatched, they ran quickly to the water. Their mother protected them from birds and watched them closely. Like all children, the young caimans played in the sand, but in a dangerous situation, they would hide in their mother’s mouth.

Once I saw a huge crocodile, about six feet long. The local fisherman was cleaning his fresh catch on the shore of the lagoon. He cut off the fillet and threw the remains into the water.
A crocodile was on the surface about 100 meters away, waiting for its prey. The reptiles live in the lagoon and hunt dogs that like to swim in the warm water.
An alligator once attacked a woman in Florida. Because reptiles eat dead flesh, their dirty teeth are dangerous. The poor woman died of blood poisoning in hospital.
One of the most notorious Caribbean pirates, Black Bart, hid his loot in the Cayman Islands. He knew that the reptiles living there were the best guards for his treasure. The pirate was killed in Africa and his hidden treasure still awaits the adventurer.

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One Comment

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