Hear a massive Florida alligator's mating call; why breeding season has started a bit early

The weather is heating up quickly this year in Florida, kicking off alligator breeding season a tad early.

Though alligator courtship typically begins in early April, with mating occurring between May and June, Gatorland CEO Mark McHugh shared in an alligator safety video that the early Spring weather the Sunshine State experienced this past winter can be confusing to the reptiles, causing them to mate a bit early. 

Officials say male gators will typically lift their tails high and slap the water with their jaws to create vibrations throughout the water. 

During alligator mating season, female alligators will build a nest of soil, vegetation, or debris and lay up 46 eggs in late June or early July, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Hatching occurs from mid-August through early September. 

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Alyssa Rose, who lives in Florida, recorded video last year of a large alligator bellowing in the water. She told FOX 35 in a Facebook message that she was on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Trail with her family when they saw this huge gator.

"The alligator started making this noise and it was amazing to see up close. I have been down the trail many times and have not heard it," she wrote.

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It's estimated that there are 1.3 million alligators of every size across Florida's 67 counties, including in marshes, lakes, rivers, and retention ponds. 

In the alligator safety video posted on Gatorland's Facebook page, McHugh shared several tips to keep you safe from alligators:

  • Pay attention to your surroundings
  • Leave alligators alone.
  • Never feed wild alligators. It is dangerous and it is illegal.
  • Look for signage warning of alligators and do not swim in waters that might be inhabited by the reptile.

So, what do you do if you see an alligator?

The state of Florida has a Florida Nuisance Alligator Hotline where people can report nuisance alligators – and have a licensed trapper come out to remove the reptile. The Florida Nuisance Alligator Hotline number is 866-FWC Gator, or 866-392-4286.

According to the FWC's website, "an alligator is deemed a nuisance if it is at least 4 feet in length and the caller believes it poses a threat to people, pets or property." This also includes alligators that end up in places you do not want them to be, such as in swimming pools, garages, or on the front porch.