The caiman lizard is distributed in the Amazon region of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. It inhabits seasonally flooded lowlands, swamps and river and stream banks.
It spends much of its time in the water and its body has adapted to survive in this environment. Its tail is long and flattened, with a dorsal crest similar to that of the caiman which is very useful for swimming and diving. It has strong jaws to feed on its prey, mainly snails.
It is a solitary species and a good climber, as well as a good swimmer. It usually climbs trees to sunbathe, close to the water in order to escape if it is in danger. During the night it hides in bushes. After mating, the female lays 3 to 10 eggs in a hole on the bank of a river and covers them with earth to protect them. When the young hatch, after 5 to 6 months of incubation, they must fend for themselves as there is no parental care.
The population of this species has declined mainly due to loss of habitat caused by pollution and deforestation.