At least three caimans, close relatives to alligators, have been captured recently in the wild on St. Thomas, acting Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Jean-Pierre Oriol confirmed this week.
Most subspecies of caiman, formally named Caiman crocodilus, grow up to eight feet in length over a period of 15 years and look similar to crocodiles or alligators. One Amazon basin species grows even longer.
If approached, they can become aggressive despite their diet of small mammals, birds, freshwater fish, and reptiles, according to a DPNR news release.
In an on-going effort to eradicate the small population of caimans that have appeared in freshwater pools on the eastern end of St. Thomas, the Division of Fish and Wildlife urged the community to report all sightings immediately to 340-775-6762 on St Thomas or 340-773-1082 on St. Croix.
Due to caimans’ propensity to live in subtropical climates, there are no good methods to manage or care for captive caimans in the Virgin Islands. They make poor pets, the DPNR news release said.
There will be no penalties for having a captive caiman at this time if the animal is reported and surrendered, the agency noted.