The Lifecycle of the American Alligator

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Across the Southern half of the United States, you will find about 5 million alligators. Of that number, about 1.25 million live in Florida. They live in freshwater environments, such as swamps, marshes, rivers, and other wetland environments. When you go on an airboat tour in Orlando, you may see alligators at various stages of their lives.

Birth

Mother alligators work feverishly to build nests measuring about six feet in diameter and three feet high of plants, sticks, and mud where they lay their eggs. Most female alligators lay between 20 and 50 eggs. Only about 10 percent of those eggs hatch because they are a favorite food source of many birds and animals living in the same habitat. They guard the nest throughout the incubation period that lasts about two months. While we do not recommend that you get that close, according to the University of Florida’s Department of Veterinary Medicine, temperature when the eggs are incubating determine if the baby will be a boy or a girl. If temperatures above 93 degrees between the seventh and 21st day will almost always result in male alligators being born, but if temperatures are below 86 degrees, then females will be born. If temperatures are between 86 and 93 degrees, then both will be born.

Juveniles

Baby alligators live with their mothers for at least a year. The mother and babies are called a pod. Shortly after they are born, usually in June and July, it is not unusual to see a mother alligator swimming with a baby alligator on her back. The babies are already eating small animals, and there hunting skills increases as they age. Baby alligators are a favorite source of food for many other species including raccoons, birds of prey and large fish. It is not unusual to see a male alligator eating a baby one. Juveniles will call out to their mothers when they feel threatened. Mother alligators are very fierce in protecting their young.

Adulthood

Almost all young alligators stay in the pod until they are at least four feet long. This can take from one to three years. They will keep growing until the females reach about ten feet long and the males reach about 13 feet long. Most alligators do not become sexually mature until they are at least six feet long. In the wild, alligators live to be about 40 years old on average.

There are very few things in life that compare to seeing an alligator in the wild. Going on airboat tours in Orlando with Switchgrass Outfitters & Airboat Tours often gives you that opportunity. Since these tours operate throughout the year, you can easily watch alligators at different stages of their lifecycle. Call 321-900-2494 to arrange for your airboat tours during your Orlando vacation.

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