Main Characteristics Of The Marsh Alligator

Although it is known as the marsh alligator, this armored reptile endemic to South America is also known by other names.
Main characteristics of the wetland alligator

There are many large reptiles in the swamps and aquatic areas of the Americas. Among all these crocodiles, let’s talk about the alligator-of-the-swamp, also known as alligator-do-paraguay or alligator-piranha. Read on to find out more about this armored animal.

Biological history of the wetland alligator

The first description of this reptile dates from 1802 and is the work of the French zoologist François Marie Daudin. It was he who, precisely, coined the first known scientific name of this animal: Crocodilus yacare. The term ‘yacare’ comes from the Tupi ‘îakaré’ and means ‘one who looks sideways’.

Later, after several taxonomic studies, this species was renamed Caiman yacare . A relationship is believed to exist between this and other alligator species, such as the spectacled alligator ( Caiman crocodilus ). However, so far there is no definitive data that better clarify this relationship.

What is clear is that the alligator belongs to the alligatorid family. These reptiles live exclusively on American territory, and currently four living genera are known, in addition to many extinct ones.

Main characteristics of the wetland alligator

Main features

Compared to other alligatorids,  the marsh alligator is a medium-sized reptile. As with many other animals, there are morphological differences between male and female. The male measures about 2.5 meters in length and weighs around 58 kilos, while females generally measure 1.4 meters and weigh a maximum of 23 kilos.

Its body is elongated and has a dark color, which can vary from brown to dark greenish or even black. The sides of the alligator-do-marsh, as well as the tail and the lower part of its jaw, have very characteristic dark spots. Its belly is yellowish. These animals  have really curious morphological structures: the osteoderms.

Attached to the scales, osteoderms are tough bony plates that work in a variety of ways. In the case of alligators of the genus Caiman, they generally have a defensive or heat distribution function. In other alligators, these osteoderms are distributed along the back and are not present in the belly.

The legs of these crocodiles are short but strong, which helps them to move and swim. However, the  it really gives them an advantage to boost is the tail. The snout is long and holds up to 74 teeth, some of which can be seen even with the fauces closed.

Alligator Habits and Conservation

These animals generally  prefer sunny areas with lots of mud. On land, they can move quickly and go unnoticed by other animals unless disturbed. At this point, to warn of their presence, they may start to make a noise and start to swell.

Main characteristics of the wetland alligator

Upon entering the water, they reveal their uniquely carnivorous diet. To save energy,  the marsh alligator remains motionless and with its mouth open, waiting for molluscs, crustaceans and fish to come within reach. If necessary, it can also hunt small mammals and even other reptiles, which it will drag to the bottom to drown them.

In terms of distribution and conservation,  the wetland alligator is widely distributed over several regions of South America and its conservation status is of ‘less concern’, according to the IUCN. Their abundant numbers and their high reproduction rate are two factors in their favor, no doubt.

However, unfortunately, its population is gradually declining. In short, three main factors contributed to this phenomenon: the interest it arouses in the leather industry, its increasingly common presence in animal trafficking and the reduction of its habitat.

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