Q:

How do alligators mate?

A:

According to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, alligators use a complex series of underwater bellows, sighs, grunts and other vocalizations to attract mates. Before mating, female alligators prepare soft nests of sticks and vegetation. Each female lays 30 to 50 eggs, deposits them in the nest and guards them during the 65-day incubation period.

According to Wired Science News, the alligator mating ritual is often called "water dancing." The animals' underwater mating bellows are so forceful and low that they cause water droplets to fly up into the air, attracting potential mates. Alligators also use these noises to establish territorial dominance and intimidate other animals.

Juvenile alligators also communicate with high-pitched vocalizations. They use them to alert their mothers that they need attention or that there is a predator nearby. Juvenile bellows also alert a mother that one of her eggs has hatched. When she hears the bellow of her tiny hatchling, the mother races to the nest, scoops the baby up in her mouth and carries it into the water with her. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, baby alligators remain close to their mothers for roughly two years.

Many animal species communicate with vocalizations. Alligators are unique among them because these reptiles lack vocal folds. All alligator bellows and coughs are made by gulping air and releasing it in a pressurized stream.


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