Spring is in the air in the southeast, and with April showers and warming temperatures, amorous alligators start looking for a mate.
Each spring new videos of big gators crossing a busy road or strolling across a golf course draw attention (and thousands of views) on social media as the prehistoric-looking creatures set out in a search of love.
“This time of year it’s warming up. Our alligators are getting more active, so they are definitely looking for mates, we’re coming into breeding season, so they’re definitely more active because of that,” Lea Caswell, with the South Carolina Aquarium, told WCBD last year.
American Alligators, found from Florida and Louisiana up to the Carolinas, like to date for a little while before they commit to mating together, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
“Throughout most of their range, alligators begin courting in April and breed in late May and early June,” the DNR writes.
“Alligator courtship is complex and involves a variety of vocalizations, head-slapping on the water’s surface, body posturing, snout and back rubbing, bubble blowing, and pheromone (scent) signals,” according to the University of Georgia.
After mating, the female will start building a nest.
“Females build a mound nest of soil, vegetation, or debris and deposit an average of 32 to 46 eggs in late June or early July,” according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. The alligator eggs will hatch about two months later in August or early September, according to the commission.
“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,” according to the University of Georgia
“Females sometimes aggressively defend their young for more than a year,” the university says.