American Alligator at Circle B Bar Reserve in Florida.

Meet the Amazing Alligator



Introduction  |  Taxonomy, Phylogeny & Etymology  |  Distribution & Population  Ecology

 Anatomy & Physiology  |  Diet & Digestion   Thermoregulation  |  Reproduction  |  Neonate Care   Ethology

Survival  |  Human Conflict  |  Cultural & Commercial Impact  |  Conservation


Prime Observation Locations  |  Bibliography  |  Filmography  |  Suggested Publications  |  References



An alli gator afloat in water reflecting the gold of a sunset.AMERICAN ALLIGATOR

Alligator mississippiensis


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Superorder: Crocodylomorpha

Order: Crocodilia

Family: Alligatoridae

Genus: Alligator


(Image: istockphoto/LarryLynch)



9. Neonate Care


Mother alligator will attend her brood well after they hatch, perhaps a year or longer, providing protection from predators, which include large fish, birds, racoons, bears, bobcats, other alligators, and other large animals that eat meat. It has been reported that the mother may eat her young after a year or so if they do not leave and establish their independence. This behavior seems to be nature's way of protecting the line of progeny, as the growing alligator competes for immediate resources with the mother and younger siblings.


The young will remain in proximity to the mother, and will even bask on the top of her body as she floats in the water. Only about three of the average of 30-35 babies that hatch each year will reach adulthood, due to heavy predation upon them. Thus, mother's guardianship behavior is crucial to the survival of the species. (Please refer to the "Reproduction" section for a discussion of the maternal care that occurs before hatching.)


A mother alligator rests on a bank with her young.


Above: Mother alligator basks with her brood at Everglades National Park in Florida. Note the larger youngsters present; these are likely from the previous year's hatchings, who choose to remain near their parent. They may also be young from another alligator which are "adoptees" of this maternal guardian.

(Image: © Wikimedia Commons/User Catholic 85)


In the video footage available below, a mother alligator can be observed guarding her newly hatched offspring while digging through the nest mound for any others that may be hatching which require her assistance to emerge from.




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