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Georgiana Wingard, U.S. Geological Survey. Public domain.)
This species mates during the drier season, such as
late winter and early spring,
with nest building following in March and egg-laying in late April or
early May. Females must be about 10-13 years of age to be sexually
mature. The courtship behavior of the crocodiles comprises of various
Water must be deep enough for the crocodiles to copulate,
Copulation involves the male turning its body about 1/4 turn of axis
toward the female with its genital member meeting the cloaca of its
mate. The total time of copulation may be only a few
minutes. In both sexes, the genitalia are located within the cloaca,
which is a small slit found on the ventral (bottom) region of the body
just behind the rear legs.
A few weeks after copulation the gravid
("pregnant") female will be ready to lay her eggs. A crocodile
mother is adaptable to the substrate on which she will be
required to nest, requiring mainly that her eggs remain
relatively dry (as the embryos will drown in water).. In a drier
or sandier setting she will dig a hole in the ground as a nest,
and in more densely vegetative, or wetter surroundings she will build a mound nest of vegetation debris.
will deposit up to 60, possibly even 80 eggs, the average clutch a
little more than half of that number (though in some populations
the clutch may number in the 20s). At hatching time, about 100 days after laying, the
mother may assist the babies from their eggs, as other
crocodilians do. While parental guarding of the nest occurs,
ongoing parental care for the babies is limited.
The crocodile shown here
displays the "bowed" posture, which may indicate submission to
another during courtship/mating season.
This image compares the size
and shape of an American Crocodile's egg (at left) with that of
a chicken (at right).
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