The Toasted Caiman

Excerpt from the book Animals Evolution Avoided. This book describes 40 animals that ought to exist but don’t, because I made them up.


The Toasted Caiman, also known as the Lesser Black Caiman, is found in the rivers of South America. Its range is from Surinam to Peru, with the main concentration in the 880,000 square kilometre Orinoco Basin on the borders of Colombia and Venezuela.

This caiman grows to a length of around five metres and is jet black from birth. Like all other alligators, the Toasted Caiman is mainly a carnivore, eating anything that enters the water. It does also eat other food such as fruit, when it’s nursing an injured jaw. This animal is unusual because it always attacks prey from underneath rather than head on. This method comes in very useful when the caiman attacks its most famous prey, the Electric Eel. The bodies of these eels contain electric organs with about 6,000 specialized cells called electrocytes that store power like batteries. When threatened, these cells will emit a burst of at least 600 volts.

When a Toasted Caiman sees an Electric Eel it will hide on the bottom of the river where its black body provides some camouflage. The caiman will track the eel until the eel swims into shallower water. Then the caiman will pounce on the eel, making sure that its own tail is touching the bed of the river. More often than not, the eel heads to the surface, causing the Toasted Caiman to lose contact with the river bed and thus receive a hefty jolt of electricity. The Caiman is strong enough to withstand the shock, but often receives burns to its jaw. In such situations, the caiman will swim to the bank and eat fruit for a week before heading back into the water to renew its rivalry with the Electric Eel.


Published by Julian Worker

I was born in Leicester. I attended school in Yorkshire and University in Liverpool. I have been to 93 countries and territories including The Balkans and Armenia in 2015, France and Slovakia in 2016, and some of the Greek Islands in 2017. My sense of humour is distilled from The Goons, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. I love being creative in my writing and I love writing about travelling. My next books are a travel book about Greece and a novel inspired by Brexit.

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