With alligator mating season in full swing, gators across the southeast are hard at work wooing potential mates with their unique approach to courtship. One male alligator in Florida was recently filmed performing a water dance, the most captivating step in this ritual, in Paynes Prairie State Park.
Across the animal kingdom, courtship and mating look wildly different from species to species. For nursery web spiders, it begins with gifts of silk-wrapped insect carcasses. Meanwhile, male humpback whales sing haunting melodies to attract females.
With alligators, females require a song and dance to agree to a potential mate’s advances. Rather than busting a move himself, however, a male alligator uses his bassy bellows to make the water dance around him.
As you can see, the male Florida alligator moves up and down in the water, his attention locked on the female nearby. As he moves down, he unleashes a mighty bellow while sending the water around him shooting skyward like a fountain.
It may look like he’s splashing, but it’s actually the vibrations from his mating melody that cause the water to spout upward.
Hearing these alligator bellows is a completely normal experience for Florida residents. Seeing the water dance in person, however, is far more unusual. For that reason, Andy Fischer, the videographer behind the fascinating footage, immediately took out his camera and subsequently shared the encounter on Facebook for the world to see.
“I knew I had a pretty unique video. It was pretty impressive to actually be there and hear it,” Fischer said in a statement. “I was quite excited and was looking forward to getting it posted. I knew a lot of people would enjoy it.”
What happened next for the Florida alligators?
Let’s say the male alligator was successful in his song, the female is interested. Now the male has to prove that he’s not only attractive but better than her other potential suitors. To do this, the Florida alligator will initiate a contest of power with his paramour.
The gators will rub and press each other’s snouts and backs in a motion that resembles cuddling. In reality, however, it’s the male’s final test to win over the female by proving his strength. With this test passed, it’s finally time to mate.
When it’s all said and done, the alligators will simply move on to other potential mates. Yep, within the same mating season!
Alligators are jealous in that dominant males will evict smaller males from their territories to eliminate competition. In terms of actual mating, however, they couldn’t be less monogamous.
Once alligators have successfully mated, the couple splits ways without a care. It’s not unusual for a male alligator to mate with more than one female, nor is it strange for females to lay eggs fathered by more than one male in a single clutch.
These eggs are typically laid in June. By August and September, Florida and the rest of the southeastern US will be filled with baby alligators.