How Do Alligators Have Sex?

crocodile in body of water

As winter fades and temperatures rise, alligators start their complex courtship rituals. They slap the water and press their backs and snouts against each other.

But how do you tell if an alligator is male or female? A gator wrangler in North Carolina has posted a video explaining how he does it—using a gloved finger to feel its cloaca.


Alligators are a reptile species that is found in the southern United States. They are a type of crocodilian, and like other members of the class, they have an armored body with a flat tail. Their skin is covered with embedded bony plates known as osteoderms. The snout of an alligator is long and pointed with upward-facing nostrils that allow the animal to breathe while underwater. Alligators are a diurnal species, meaning that they are active during the day and are resting at night.

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Like other reptiles, alligators are oviparous and reproduce by internal fertilization. The breeding season for American alligators occurs in the spring. During this time, males and females will search for a mate that is compatible with their size, age and readiness to breed. During this process, the alligators will emit courtship pheromones, which attract potential mates. Once a match has been made, the two alligators will engage in a mating ritual that is typically completed in the water.

The Gender of the Alligator

During the middle one-third of an alligator’s egg incubation, the ambient temperature can determine its gender. This is referred to as temperature-dependent sex determination. Experiments in which eggs were shifted from a female-producing temperature to a male-producing temperature at weekly intervals during incubation revealed that the eggs would hatch as either males or females, depending on the temperature at which they were incubated.

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Once an alligator has hatched, it will continue to grow and mature until it reaches sexual maturity, which is usually around 20 years of age. This is a relatively fast rate of growth, particularly for a reptile. However, there is some evidence that alligators in cooler climates reach sexual maturity at a smaller size than alligators living in warmer regions, possibly because they have to work harder to survive in their colder habitats.

In addition to releasing courtship pheromones, alligators also use their mouths and limbs to display their body language during the mating ritual. They will rub their bodies together and roll over each other. This is a display that is meant to attract a female mate. In addition, male alligators will slap the surface of the water with their jaws to create infrasound waves. These waves will cause droplets to skitter across the water’s surface, and they will vibrate the surrounding environment.

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When a male alligator is ready to mate, he will enter the water and swim around searching for a suitable female. He will also make low grunting noises in order to attract a mate. During the courting process, male alligators will slap their jaws and lift their tails. This causes the water to vibrate and create Faraday waves, which are a type of sound wave that has never been observed in nature before. In addition, the paired alligators will engage in a “water dance,” using their snouts to pound the water and creating vibrations that can be heard but not seen. The dance lasts a few minutes and then the pair will slither off into the water to complete their union.

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