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Northern caiman lizard

Dracaena guianensis

Northern caiman lizard at Paignton Zoo
IUCN Conservation Status –
Least Concern
Extinct In The Wild
Class: Reptiles
Order: Squamata
Family: Teiidae

The northern caiman lizard resides in swampy habitats and wooded areas of South American countries, such as Brazil and Ecuador.

In the wild, these lizards eat snails, crayfish and freshwater clams. Our pair of northern caiman lizards are fed a diet of snails, prawns and crayfish.

Interesting facts!

  • While its appearance and semi-aquatic lifestyle may suggest that that the caiman lizard is related to crocodilians, it is actually a cousin of the tegu and is just as well equipped for life on land and in the trees as it is for in the water.
  • Although little is known about the reproduction of the caiman lizard, they are thought to behave in a similar way to other large lizard species. After mating, female caiman lizards will lay their eggs into a hole in the riverbank which they cover up to protect them from hungry predators.
  • When baby caiman lizards hatch, they are completely independent as there is no pre-natal care from the caiman lizard parents.


While it is a relatively widespread species, little has been published about wild populations of caiman lizards. In the past, the caiman lizard was heavily hunted for its skin, but since protection was provided for them in the 1970s, the export of skin has dropped and now these animals are not considered to be under the threat of extinction.