American Alligators Part 3 – Juveniles

(Continuing with Part 3 of an American Alligator three-part series)

 

American Alligator juveniles are tiny replicas of their parents.  They are so cute!

 

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American Alligator juvenile, approx. 4-6 months old

 

The adult female alligator lays 32 to 46 eggs in late June/early July, with hatching occurring late August/early September.

Alligator hatchlings are 6 to 8 inches long with orange/yellow cross-bands against black for effective camouflage that lasts until maturity. 

 

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American Alligator juvenile, 4-6 months old, sitting on Momma’s back

 

Hatchlings grow rapidly, especially during their first four years, sometimes averaging more than one foot of growth for each year of life.  They attain sub-adult stage at four years old.

 

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American Alligator juvenile

 

Juvenile alligators are very vulnerable to predators (birds, raccoons, bobcats, and other alligators) and will live close to Mom for at least their first two years of life. 

 

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American Alligator juvenile

 

From an average clutch size of 35, it is estimated only 4 alligators will reach maturity (at 6 years female, 7 years male).  This estimate is actually for a growing alligator population.

 

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American Alligator juvenile

 

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American Alligator juvenile closeup of the banding

 

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American Alligator juvenile

 

Cute until they get 6 to 10 to 15 feet long!

I hope you enjoyed my three part photo series and the bits of info, sharing the fascinating and, yes, dangerous American Alligator.

Here’s a map of where American Alligators are located in the United States.  They are more widespread than I thought!

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Map courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program

 

(Part 1 “Adults” here, and Part 2 “Closeups” here)

 

 

56 thoughts on “American Alligators Part 3 – Juveniles

  1. Wow, the babies are so so tiny compared to momma! Very fascinating creatures. 😎 We visited the Florida Everglades a few years back and were able to see some alligators up close. We had a great time learning about the Everglades.

    • I have fallen in love with the Everglades and its diversity. Being able to stay for three months this past winter gave me plenty of time to explore and find remote special places. Seeing the gators deep in the wild in their habitat was an amazing experience. 🙂

    • Thank you, Jane! I was at first shocked at the tough odds but then read too that that low number keeps the population growing. Guess it is a good thing half of them don’t make it to adulthood. 😲

  2. A very informative post Donna with wonderful photos to illustrate it. Interesting how far spread they are in the US. It would concern me that they were that far spread. If they are like Crocodiles and have to stay close to water to adjust their body temperature, that would not be such a problem.

    • Thank you, Ashley! I’m sure the further in the alligators are in the U.S. following waterways, there are controls done with kill hunts and capture/relocations. They say climate temperature keeps them from continuing to spread but the climate change going on today I would think will affect that.

  3. Nice captures of the little ones, Donna, especially the one sitting on mom! Interesting info on their survival rates to adulthood and the map, I’m surprised to see Arkansas, and so far inland in the coastal states.

    • Thank you, Ellen! I was surprised with the inland, but guessing the gators follow the rivers and tributaries in. I meant to mention in my post too, I learned Florida’s alligators are more on the shorter size than up the east coast, where ya’ll have the big ones! 😉

  4. Amazing photographs dear Donna, I couldn’t expect myself to like alligator’s photograph 🙂 Especially number three!!!! Is he a handsome guy… so beautiful. Thank you, Love, nia

  5. We enjoy having alligators around. These are great pics! One time I was at a wildlife park and there was a big gator on the other side of a chain link fence. I thought it was the perfect time to get a close-up of the gator’s eye. I got in position and the gator appeared to be ignoring me. Just as I was about to click, the gator flung his head around hard and hit the fence and I jumped about 10 feet high. Ha, ha! Good thing there was a fence!

  6. I really enjoyed this third part of the alligator series, Donna, and am headed back to see the first two parts. Your photos here are excellent and do a good job of representing the different stages. I also enjoyed the facts and narrative. I had no idea alligator clutches were so large, but then your explanation of how many they lose explains that. And OMG they are so very small when they are first hatched! I also didn’t know that. All of the photos were excellent but that one of the 4-6 mo. old on Momma’s back was my favorite. Great map, too. Thanks so much.

  7. Great post! They are kind of cute … when small! I wonder if they have been moving farther north through the years. I’ll go see parts 1 & 2 to see where you photographed these.

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