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