American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) reside in the southeastern part of the United States, living in freshwater rivers, swamps, marshes and lakes. An adult male can reach over 12 feet, weighing over 1000 pounds. The mating and gestational period of alligators lasts around 6 months total, with baby alligators typically being born in early fall.
American alligators reach sexual maturity when they are near 6 feet long, or around 10 to 12 years of age. Alligators typically begin courting in April, with breeding taking place in early May. After breeding, the female alligator builds a nest, measuring as large as 10 feet in diameter, in preparation for laying eggs. She then lays her eggs in late June to early July.
A female alligator lays between 35 and 90 eggs. Once the eggs are laid, she covers them with a layer of vegetation to keep them warm. The incubation period is 65 days and the temperature within in the nest plays a critical role during this time. If the nest temperature is above 93 degrees Fahrenheit for the incubation period, all juvenile alligators will be born male. If the temperature is below 86 degrees, the young alligators will be female. Temperatures in between deliver mixed genders.
Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.