There is something very exciting about watching a mama American Alligator guarding her nest for weeks all summer long, and then finally seeing these tiny creatures emerge in the fall! These 2 week old baby gators are no more than about 8-10 inches long. What a treat to watch the babies clamber all over one another and the mother. Although she keeps a close watch, they gradually begin to explore on their own as the weeks pass. There are often 25 or more hatchlings in a group, but fewer than half of that number will survive to a year. The juveniles will stay close to the mother for up to a year or more, but despite this maternal protection, they often fall prey to “the large, dominant, male American Alligators.” (Arkive).
Sadly, “Small alligators are eaten by a variety of predators including raccoons, otters, wading birds, and fish; however, larger alligators may be their most significant predator.” (Florida Fish & Wildlife). Females like this mama can reproduce when they reach approximately 6 feet in length, but for some, this may take up to 10 years or more. The American Alligator‘s rate of growth “may vary from 2″ per year up to 12″ per year, depending on the type of habitat in which the alligator is living and the sex, size and age of the alligator.” (Louisiana Dept.of Wildlife & Fisheries)