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April begins the flirting and showing off season for alligators, leading to mating in May and June.
At 6 or 7 feet alligators become sexually mature, and like human blossoming adolescents, the males vie to attract mates by donning a musky scent and posturing.
The lusty males lift their heads and tails high, slap the water with their chins, and bellow loudly causing water droplets to dance on their backs ~ the attractive vibrations carrying through the water.
Last spring I heard what I thought was a loud motorcycle revving up, and it was an alligator bellowing in the water under the tree by my dock! Almost immediately a smaller interested “girl” approached from the other side of the lake and they circled each other. Love at first sight?
Males fight for dominance, leaving some unfortunate ones critically injured, and others win to “control” the opposite sex.
(Not completely ~
Females may choose to mate with more than one fellow.)
What is pertinent to humans is that alligators are even more territorial and bad tempered than usual during this period. You don’t want to be in their way! Exacerbating the already inflamed temperament is the fact that coming off of the cooler, less active winter, they may be very hungry. Keep your distance, and don’t take your pets walking near the water. Read She Swims with Alligators for some sad stories of dogs and their unwary owners. The alligator courting period lasts until early summer when the alligators’ foreplay leads to mating.
Romance for alligators can be amazingly tender – at least during the time of attracting and luring a mate, when they expose the vulnerable neck flesh, and rub lovingly on each other’s head and back.
Yet the necking turns violent as he pushes her under and they submerge to complete the sexual affair while holding their breath. Immediately he abandons her and she is left to: develop the eggs, build a land nest mound, lay the eggs, and guard them for 2 months until they hatch at the end of summer. Once they hatch “daddy” might even eat some of his young hatchlings.
Here’s sonnet 1 (of 3) that I wrote about Alligator Sex. For the succeeding sonnets, look in the book!
Swamp Sex Sonnet Sequence
In April when the sunshine warms the lake
A reptile’s temperament’s a force to fear:
The hungry sex-starved males emerge to mate
And loudly call to lure the females near.
Beneath the surface, sounds can carry far
Some five times farther than up in the air,
And other creatures tremble when they hear
As lusty males submerge to growl there.
The frequency of gators’ low-pitched rumble
When advertising thus their brutal strength
Has been compared to terrifying thunder
As sounds reverberate on down their length.
A wary human hearing such a call
Would not feel warm or amorous at all.