This is the sixth of 12 Things You Should Know about Alligators and Everglades Wildlife, a free eBook.
When alligators are 8 to 13 years old, they are ready to mate and reproduce. Like many other animals, this usually happens in the spring. Alligators have no vocal chords, but this doesn’t stop them from belting out love songs. The male alligator sucks air into his lungs and blows it out in intermittent, deep-toned roars. In fact, if they want to really impress the ladies, male alligators use infrasound in their bellowing! Infrasound is a sound lower in frequency than the human ear can hear.
Care to Dance?
When alligators practice their infrasound bellowing, their head and tail are above the water, but their midsection very slightly submerged. This makes the surface of the water over their back jump and sprinkle in a so-called “water dance.” Recently, alligators have been spotted gathering in large numbers for spring courtship. These get-togethers are sometimes called “alligator dances.” (Apparently we’re not the only creatures who throw spring flings!)
Once the females have been wooed by the irresistible bellowing of the males, alligator babies are soon to follow! The average female alligator will lay anywhere between 25 and 60 eggs in a nest of vegetation, mud, and leaves. After laying the eggs, mother alligators cover the eggs to keep them warm for hatching.
Did you know that the sex of a young alligator is determined by the temperature at which the egg is hatched? If eggs hatch at temperatures between 90 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit, they will turn out to be males. Those hatched between 82 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit turn out to be females. If the temperature ranges are intermediate, a mix of male and female alligators will hatch.
Young alligators are about 6-8 inches long, and they almost immediately become independent in finding their food. However, for safety, they will stay with their mothers for about two years.