Florida gator mating season begins soon: Here’s what to know

Spring is here and gators across the state of Florida are looking for love. 

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, alligator courtship starts in early April, and mating occurs in May or June. 

FWC officials say female alligators lay about 32 - 46 eggs in late June or early July in a mound nest they build out of soil, vegetation or debris. 

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The eggs will spend approximately 60–65 days incubating and will hatch in late August or early September.

File: Gator hatches from egg

File: Gator hatches from egg

According to FWC, about one-third of alligator nests are destroyed by predators or flooding. Of those that survive, only about 24 hatchlings will emerge and 10 will survive one year. 

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Typically, eight of the yearlings become subadults, reaching a length of four feet, and only five will grow to become six feet long, according to FWC. 

File: Gator hatchlings

File: Gator hatchlings

Alligators are in all 67 counties in Florida, and according to the FWC, can be found in almost all fresh and brackish bodies of water and, sometimes in salt water. 

Alligators are cold-blooded creatures that regulate body temperature by basking in the sun or moving to areas with warmer or cooler air or water temperatures. They become dormant when the temperature drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit and are most active when temperatures are 82–92 degrees. 

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According to the FWC, the likelihood of a Florida resident being seriously injured during an unprovoked alligator incident in Florida is roughly only one in 3.1 million.

File: Alligator

File: Alligator

Data from the FWC shows in 2022, 13 people were bitten by alligators in Florida and two of them died.  

FWC tips to stay safe around alligators

  • If you encounter an alligator that is believed to pose a threat to people, pets, or property, call the FWC’s Nuisance Alligator Hotline, toll‐free at 1‐866‐FWC‐GATOR (392‐4286). The FWC’s Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP) uses contracted nuisance alligator trappers throughout the state to remove alligators 4 feet in length or greater that are believed to pose a threat.
  • Be aware of the possible presence of alligators when in or near fresh or brackish water. Negative alligator encounters may occur when people do not pay close attention to their surroundings when working or recreating near water.
  • Closely supervise children when they are playing in or around water.
  • Never swim outside of posted swimming areas.
  • Swim only during daylight hours. Alligators are most active between dusk and dawn.
  • Do not allow pets to swim, exercise, or drink in or near waters that may contain alligators or in designated swimming areas with humans. Dogs are more susceptible to being bitten than humans because dogs resemble the natural prey of alligators. The sound of dogs barking and playing may draw an alligator to the area.
  • Never feed or entice alligators – it is dangerous and illegal. When fed, alligators overcome their natural wariness and associate people with food.
  • Inform others that feeding alligators is illegal and creates problems for others who want to recreate in or near the water.
  • Dispose of fish scraps in garbage cans at boat ramps and fish camps – do not throw them in the water. Although you are not intentionally feeding alligators when you do this, the result can be the same.
  • Observe and photograph alligators only from a safe distance. Remember, they are an important part of Florida’s natural history as well as an integral component of freshwater ecosystems.
  • Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing, or possessing alligators except under a permit.
  • Never remove an alligator from its natural habitat or accept one as a pet. It is illegal and dangerous to do so. Handling even small alligators can result in injury.
  • If an alligator bites you, the best thing to do is fight back, providing as much noise and resistance as possible. Hitting or kicking the alligator or poking it in its eyes may cause it to release its grip.
  • When alligators seize prey they cannot easily overpower, they will often let go and retreat.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if bitten by an alligator. Alligator bites often result in serious infection.

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