A dozen rare crocodilian babies are the newest members of Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo, adding to the nature education they provide.

Twelve baby Cuvier’s dwarf caimans hatched Saturday, the first such birth in Ottawa and one of a few that have ever happened in Canada.

“I saw a little head poking out of an egg, I thought 'This is awesome' so I got all the staff in the zoo together and we're all sitting there,” said Matt Korhonez.

“I pick up the egg just to look at it and the baby literally jumped out of its egg and just kind of sat there, ready to take on the world.”

The world’s smallest crocodilians, with babies that fit in the palm of your hand, are already a hit with visitors.

“They were very cute and they looked very nice to pet,” said one child.

“They're adorable, I saw one when I was in Florida,” said another. “They have beautiful eyes and I just want to pet him."

It took 76 days in an incubator for the reptiles to hatch, now ready to be used as part of the zoo’s programming and at parties.

"We do literally thousands of education programs every year and Cuvier's caiman are literally the cornerstone to our outreach program,” Korhonez said.

“These little guys are literally going to spend their life just teaching people to better appreciate nature."

While still small, the reptiles won’t stay tiny forever. When they mature they’ll grow to be about a meter long and weigh ten pounds.

With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Katie Griffin