Spectacled Caiman found in Middlesbrough

Police seized a baby crocodile in a raid on an industrial unit in Middlesbrough (north-east England).  The crocodile, actually a Spectacled Caiman (Caiman crocodylus) is currently being checked over by vets.  Caimans are a group of small crocodiles that share the same characteristics of their larger cousins the crocodiles and alligators.  Many Spectacled Caimans are imported into the U.S. for the pet trade, it may be that this particular animal may have been brought over from the United States.

This caiman was being kept as a pet by a thirty year old, exotic animal enthusiast from Middlesbrough.  At only two feet long, the baby, known as “fluffy” may not be a man-eater but they still possess a powerful bite and could be capable of taking off a finger if a handler was not careful.  As an adult, Spectacled Caiman reach lengths of up to 2.5 metres in length, and although they rarely attack land mammals and people they are highly dangerous.

A Picture of a Caiman

Picture Credit: Blue Planet

A man has been arrested on suspicion of keeping a dangerous wild animal without a licence.  A spokesperson for the National Wildlife Crime Unit which worked alongside Cleveland Police in this case, commented:

“The Spectacled Caiman has been seized and removed through the animal reception centre at Heathrow airport, where they will find a more appropriate home for it.”

The spokesperson (Andy McWilliam) went on to add:

“There are people who want to keep animals like these, but they need to have a licence, as there is a risk.  They need to pay for the licence, have their premises inspected by the local authority and meet significant standards so the animal is safe and cannot escape.”

Although not particularly endangered, many caimans are hunted illegally in the wilds of South America for their skins which are used to make handbags and other fashion items.  The eggs and young of these ancient creatures are also highly prized and once hatched these animals can be sold as pets.

A number of zoos and wildlife parks keep these animals as part of a world-wide conservation effort, indeed some Caimans kept in captivity are believed to learn their names and respond to them when they are called.  To read more about Caimans in captivity: Crocodiles Respond to their Own Names when Called

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