While Mama Gator was away, we checked out the alligator nest, and the baby gator hatchlings.
A few years ago, Doc and I were in the hunt to put our precious gator tag on a nice sized alligator in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin. We scouted many of our old haunts where we’d located gators in years past, any stretch of river, wooded cove, or secluded pond that looked “gator-y.” We weren’t hanging gator hooks. We wanted to spot & stalk an alligator, and head shoot it with Doc’s rifle. We spent much time in the heat checking hangouts, deep in the back woods, and came across lots of gator sign. We killed lots of time, and mosquitoes, but we also learned a lot as well.
As we made our way down a slough that led into a larger pond, we spotted a large hump in the underbrush. Beside a punk wood log was a hollowed out spot in the top of the mound with soft, mulch like material left behind by the tinder loving monster of the swamp. This nest was constructed carefully, and guarded by a vicious (to us) and loving (to a baby gator) alligator mother (the females are called cows). For several yards around the nest, the brush had been cleared by the repeated trips to and from the nest. There was the tell tale “run” left by the cow from her sliding downhill on her belly and into the slough.
A run is a place on land or in water where an animal has traveled over a particular spot so much that is has created an indention in the surface being traversed. Semi-aquatic animals such as alligators’, beavers’, and otters’ runs are easy to spot in the mud leading into the waterways that they frequent.
The coolest part is that in the video shown below, you can see the nest containing the empty alligator eggs, the run leading into the water, and the BABY ALLIGATORS! They are known as “hatchlings.”
That’s right, the baby gators having just hatched, made their way down the run left by their mother, and were awaiting her return by the edge of the bank. If you turn the video up, you can hear their faint cries for mama.
You can see from the size of the tracks left in the run, that mama gator was not a small gator. We found her later on down the slough, and she looked to be about 9 feet long or so. Obviously, we left her just as we found her. You will also notice from the video that Doc isn’t watching me make the video. He was on point with the rifle while I acted like an idiot with the camera walking down to the murky water’s edge where the large cow was likely watching me film her hatchlings. Doc’s always got his head on strait. Me…I’m a little crooked.
Interesting Tidbit: Alligator eggs that incubate below 86 degrees F for the first 21 days will be all female (cows). When temperatures are warmer (93 degrees F or higher), they will be all male (bull) hatchlings. Very Jurassic Park-ish…”Nature will find a way!” I can only assume that this is nature’s way of having the gators breed more in colder climates and/or years to allow for the better survival of the species.
The Don’t Do that Clause:
If you find an alligator nest, there is a female alligator that made that nest. That female alligator doesn’t care that you are just curious. She doesn’t care that you are not there to harm her eggs and/or offspring. She will kill you, eat your corpse, or whatever body part(s) that she manages to dislodge, and not even feel guilty about turning you into reptile poop.
Don’t do anything that you read about on this blog if you like all of your parts where they are currently situated, as well as their current function.