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Caiman cavalcade

Female caiman make excellent babysitters.

The llanos of Venezuela is a lush wetland teeming with wildlife of all kinds. As well as birds, there are capybara and spectacled caiman. One female caiman is in a pool looking after an extraordinarily large number of babies, most of whom aren't actually hers. However, keeping an eye on all these babies is not easy as there are lots of enemies around, like the white egret. Seeing one of these birds on the bank, the babies all run to the female, even though she may not be their mother. In fact, there are so many of them that there is not enough room for them all on her back. But soon the water which keeps them safe will begin to dry up. Each year the llanos is transformed into a baking oven that can be too much for some of the babies, some of whom will die and become food for the local egrets. To save the rest of the babies, the female leads the cavalcade of babies across the dried-out plains in search of permanent water, calling out to them all the time, and listening for their responses. If they are slow she waits for them to catch up. Without this level of care and attention, few of the babies would survive. We may call reptiles cold-blooded, but they can show great tenderness.

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6 minutes

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