top of page

American Alligator

Alligators are active year-round, but they are most active in the warmer months. Males "bellow " to females and other males in the area.  Courtship is complex and involves a variety of vocalizations, head-slapping on the water’s surface, body posturing, snout bubble blowing, and scent signals.  They are 10-12 years of age and 6 feet in length before they start breeding.


After mating, the female builds a nest of vegetation. The nest measures seven to ten feet in diameter and is two to three feet high. She will lay between 20 and 60 eggs.

The hard-shelled, white eggs are about 3 inches long and resemble goose eggs. The mother defends the nest against predators throughout the incubation period, approximately 65 days. When the eggs are ready to hatch, the mother alligator digs into the nest mound, opens any eggs that have not hatched, and carries the young down to the water. Females sometimes aggressively defend their young for more than a year.  Eggs are laid with no gender, and the temps that they are incubated in determents the gender. Temperature of the nest: above 93° F all are male, below 86° F  all are female, and temperatures in between will produce both sexes.  Decaying of the nest materials actually controls the incubating temps.


Alligators have between 74 and 80 teeth in their mouth at a time. As teeth wear down they are replaced. An alligator can go through 2,000 to 3,000 teeth in a lifetime.

Female alligators usually remain in a small area. The males occupy areas larger than two square miles. Both males and females extend their ranges during the courting and breeding season.    

Being ectotherms, alligators do not need to eat much, a 100-lb dog will eat more in a year than an 800-lb alligator.


Alligators have fairly poor eyesight. They have a protective membrane over their eyes so that they can see underwater.

 Alligators hear with ears that are located behind their eyes and are very sensitive to vibrations in the water.

Alligators are predicted to have been around as long as the dinosaurs, and often referred to as living fossils.

Females grow up to 10 feet, males up to 14 feet with a record of 19.8 feet.

When a light shines on them at night, the eyes of a large gator will glow red and small ones glow green.


In a lot of cases when gators are moved for safety reasons, they have to be euthanized, because they have a strong homing instinct. They have returned home, even after being moved over 100 miles.

Gaters live in fresh or brackish water, alligators do go into salt water for short times. Usually only for a few reasons, moving from place to place, looking for food, or even to clean themselves of parasites.  

They can run at sped up to 25 mph, and jump into the air the length of their body.

99% of alligator attacks are provoked, feeding a wild gator is provoking an attack. This action makes the gator associate humans with food.


Alligators are opportunistic feeders, which means they will eat anything that crosses their path if they are hungry.  Their diet usually consist of snails, turtles, crawfish, snakes fish, small mammals and sometimes birds.

Life expectancy is 50-60 years, and in captivity 85 so far.

They live from as far north as North Carolina all the way into Texas.


Alligators are truly an amazing creature, and they are no threat to humans as long as we don’t feed and treat them with respect.

bottom of page