Alligator Society and Courtship Habits
hierarchy | Alligator courtship | Alligator
Alligator social hierarchy
Alligators have a complex social hierarchy that varies with age,
sex, and habitat conditions. In the Everglades, the
- females live in small ponds and
- tend to stay in the open water and
- move from pond to pond to mate during the breeding season.
Alligator courtship begins as the weather becomes warm in the early
spring and features a varied sequence of behaviors. Courtship activities
make for familiar sounds in the swamps in the spring:
- head slapping
- snout touching and
- bubble blowing.
Alligator egg hatching
Female alligators construct elaborate nests of compacted vegetation.
For two months, 20-50 eggs are incubated from rotting vegetation
while the mother stays near to ward off predators. Shortly before
hatching, the baby alligators begin to emit a high-pitched barking
sound to which the mother sometimes responds by helping the babies
to hatch by carefully cracking the eggshells in her mouth.
Young alligators may stay with the mother for a few days to a year,
and often bask on their mother's head and back when they are with