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    Alligators are dioecious organisms.  They reach sexual maturity when they reach about six feet in length.  This is usually around 8-13 years of age.  Males tend to reach sexual maturity a year or two sooner than the females do.  They grow extremely fast up until this point of sexual maturity.  To be exact they grow on average of about a foot a year for the first 6-8 years. 
    The gators breeding season begins in the late spring (between April and May).  At this time the courtship rituals begin.  Courtship is started by the bellowing of both sexes.  This sound can travel great distances.  Once the two gators meet they start the second stage.  This stage starts by the "flirting".  They rub up against one another to show the power that they possess. 
    When the gators are ready to hatch they make high pitched squealing or chuckling sounds.  The mom can hear this and then begins uncovering the nest.  The hatchlings have an egg tooth that they use to crack the egg and begin the process of getting out.  The mom sometimes helps to break open the eggs for them.  The most interesting thing is that the sex of the the hatchlings is determined by the temperature that the eggs were kept.  If the egg was 82-86 degrees farhenheit then they would be female, if they were 90-93 degrees than they would be male!  The eggs in between would be one of the other.  When the are out of the eggs the mother brings them down to the water on her back and in mouth.
    If these hatchlings can live for the first couple years they will usually live to be around 35 years old.  In captivity they can live to be up to 50 years old. 


    They eventually begin crawling over each other and holding each other underwater for a brief amount of time to show interest.  Then the male uses supersonic waves which make the water dance like its raining into the sky.  This looks really cool and lets the female know that he is ready to mate.  This courtship can last several hours!  This is said to help the spermatogenesis (sperm production) and ovulation (release of eggs from ovary).  After they mate the female immediately starts building a nest.  This next is more like a mound of grass, twigs, and mud.  These nests can be three feet tall and up to twice that wide!  At the top she digs a depression and lays 35-50 eggs that are the size of your fist.  She then covers them up again and guards them for the next month.  During this time the female gator is extremely protective and aggressive.  The trails that lead to the nest are often bedded down from them crossing over it so often.  They submerge on this trail quite often and wait for something to try and get to the nest by way of the trail.  This is very intelligent in my perspective!
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