Alligator mating season returns

Courtesy: Karen Parker/FWC

It's the start of alligator mating season, which means you may see more of the reptiles out looking for love.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, alligators begin "courtship" in early April, with mating occurring between May and June. The eggs hatch from mid-August through early September.

Karina Paner, an alligator trapper and director at Croc Encounters in Tampa, says warmer weather helps motivate the cold-blooded animals to start moving more.

She says alligator mating season is the time of year when trappers get the most calls to catch nuisance gators.

"Males are on the move searching for females. Males are pushing smaller males out of their territories, and those smaller ones are out looking for new spots," explained Paner.

To prepare for mating season, female alligators start nesting in anticipation of laying eggs.

"Females build a mound nest of soil, vegetation, or debris and deposit an average of 32 to 46 eggs," FWC's website says.

While that seems like a lot of eggs, most don't survive.

"For nests that survive predators and flooding, an estimated 24 live hatchlings will emerge. Only 10 alligator hatchlings will live to one year," FWC notes.

Even then, just half of those yearlings will ever make it to adulthood.

In the meantime, expect to see more alligators around as their "season of love" gets underway. Anyone who spots a nuisance gator, which is typically an alligator that is longer than four feet, can contact the FWC through its nuisance alligator hotline at 1-866-FWC-GATOR (1-866-392-4286).