The broad-snouted caiman is the southernmost of the South American crocodilians. It has been observed in swampy habitats of the Pantanal, in river basins in Paraguay and Paraná, in the south, and in the São Francisco River in northeastern Brazil.
It frequents marshes, swamps, mangroves, and tidal lowlands along the Atlantic coast. It can also be found in artificial ponds created for livestock.
While it inhabits diverse habitats, in areas where its range overlaps with that of the yacare caiman, it avoids competition by keeping to slow water and dense forests.
Its dark colouration absorbs more heat than other caimans, allowing it to regulate its body temperature at altitudes of up to 600 metres.
Though it prefers tropical climates, it can live in more temperate, drier climates, such as Uruguay and northern Argentina, which are unsuitable for other crocodilian species.