Reproductive biology

Alligatorids begin the reproductive season in the spring. Following courtship, which may include loud bellows, tactile types of behavior, and underwater vibrations of the male's trunk, alligatorids use vegetation to construct nest mounds, where they lay from one dozen to five dozen eggs, depend-

Hatchling American alligators (Alligatormississippiensis). (Photo by Animals Animals © Lynn M. Stone. Reproduced by permission.)

ing on the species. Egg laying generally takes place once a year, in midsummer, with hatching one to two months later. Female alligatorids typically respond to sounds emanating from the neonate, dig up the nest, and assist in their hatching. Temperature-dependent sex determination has been associated with several species, including the American alligator and common caimans. Low nest temperatures (below 88°F, or 31°C) produce female hatchlings, and high temperatures (above 90°F, or 32°C) produce males.

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