I was not prepared for the caiman challenge.
In this issue we have an article about keeping spectacled caiman. I wish I had read this article years ago, when I acquired one on impulse. “The Caiman Challenge,” which starts on page 42, doesn’t mince words in warning readers what it is like to own one of these fascinating, though certainly challenging and potentially dangerous, reptiles. Like all crocodilians, spectacled caimain require ample space, and they can hurt you if you’re not careful. The article states that the spectacled caiman is the third-nastiest crocodilian, after the saltwater and Nile crocodiles.
When I had the opportunity to acquire a caiman years ago, it seemed so exotic and cool — the hatchling floating in a tank was irresistible. I named him Nero and kept him in an aquarium, which he quickly outgrew. Then I moved Nero to a kiddie pool in the backyard, which he was also destined to outgrow. Nero was not just getting bigger but also nastier. He often tried to bite me, and I was in over my head. Lucky for me, there was an alligator farm nearby that was willing to take Nero. Off he went, and my caiman lesson was learned.
Caiman are not for beginners — they’re for advanced hobbyists only!