Alligator Reproduction and Anatomy

Alligators generally mature at a length of 6 feet (1.8 m). The mating season is in late spring. In April and May, alligators form so-called "bellowing choruses". Large groups of animals bellow together for a few minutes a few times a day, usually one-three hours after sunrise. The bellows of male American alligators are accompanied by powerful blasts of infrasound produced by sacs in their chins. Another form of male display is a loud head-slap. Recently it was discovered that on spring nights alligators gather in large numbers for group courtship, the so-called "alligator dances".
In summer, the female builds a nest of vegetation where the decomposition of the vegetation provides the heat needed to incubate the eggs. The sex of the offspring is determined by the temperature in the nest and is fixed within 7 to 21 days of the start of incubation. Incubation temperatures of 86 °F (30 °C) or lower produce a clutch of females; those of 93 °F (34 °C) or higher produce entirely males. Nests constructed on leaves are hotter than those constructed on wet marsh and, thus, the former tend to produce males and the latter, females. The natural sex ratio at hatching is five females to one male. Females hatched from eggs incubated at 86 °F (30 °C) weigh significantly more than males hatched from eggs incubated at 93 °F (34 °C). The mother will defend the nest from predators and will assist the hatchlings to water. She will provide protection to the young for about a year if they remain in the area. The largest threat to the young are adult alligators.
Baby alligators have an egg tooth that helps them get out of their egg during hatching time. Predation by adults on young can account for a mortality rate of up to fifty percent in the first year. In the past, immediately following the outlawing of alligator hunting, populations rebounded quickly due to the suppressed number of adults preying upon the new recruits, increasing survival among the young alligators.
Alligators are the only non-avian species shown to have one-way breathing, although presumably similar measurements for other crocodilians (not yet done) would show unidirectional air flow in them as well. All other non-avian amnionts have dead-end breathing. In dead-end breathing the air flows into the lungs through branching bronchi which terminate in small dead-end chambers called alveoli. The air moves in both directions through the bronchi. In alligators the air makes a circuit through the lungs moving in only one direction through the bronchi. The air first enters the outer branch moves through the lungs in small tubes called parabronchi and exits the lung through the inner branch. The parabronchi are where the oxygen exchange takes place.
They have a muscular flat tail that propels them while swimming.
There are two kinds of white alligators, albino and leucistic. These alligators are extremely rare and practically impossible to find in the wild. They could survive only in captivity. As with all white animals, they are very vulnerable to the sun and predators.
Albino alligators have a non-functional gene for melanin, which makes them albino. The is the common trait of all albino vertebrates.
In leucistic alligators all of the pigment genes are defective not just the melanin gene. This makes them white white with blue eyes. The Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans has leucistic alligators found in a Louisiana swamp in 1987.


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