The smooth fronted caiman is found in the Amazon and Orinoco Basins in South America, including Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. It is found in small streams in forests, often in places where it is not deep enough to fully submerge. It rarely moves into the open and does not bask in the sun (even in captivity
Due to its skin having boney scutes (this is abony external plate or scale overlaid with horn). Other animals with this include turtles on their shells, as well as birds on their feet. In Guyana they are taken for the pet trade, but as with various other species, the biggest threat is destruction of their forest home, and pollution of their river homes due to gold extraction further up stream.
IUCN lists it as least concern, while CITES has it on appendix ii which is aimed to control the quantity of the species harvested, to stop a further slide towards extinction. At the current time, the wild population is thought to exceed 1 million.