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If you’re like us, then you love all things that are cute and small. And if you’re also like us, then you probably can’t resist a baby alligator! Did you know that baby alligators are incredibly fascinating creatures? Here are five fun facts about them that will make you want to learn even more.
1. Temperature Can Determine Gender
During the incubation period, the sex of baby alligators (also known as hatchlings), is typically determined by the temperature during the first 10 days of development. Warmer temperatures of around 91°F (33°C) usually produce all males, while slightly cooler temperatures below 87°F to 88°F (30°C) produce mostly females.
2. Baby alligators have an interesting appetite.
Baby alligators have quite an appetite – they can eat up to 23% of their body weight in a single meal. Their diet consists mostly of insects, shrimps, crabs, small fish, and tadpoles. However, as they grow older and larger, they begin to add other reptiles, mammals, and birds to their menu. Alligators are especially well-adapted to hunting their prey. They have rows of sharp teeth for sinking into flesh and strong jaw muscles for crushing bone. When confronted with a meal that’s too large to eat all at once, alligators will either allow it to decompose for easier disassembly, or they will spin around violently in the water until chunks are torn off – a process known as the ‘death roll’. So, the next time you see an alligator sunning itself on the riverbank, just remember that it’s probably full from its last meal.
3. They can swim and be in the water from birth.
When most people think of alligators, they picture these massive reptiles sunning themselves on a muddy bank, patiently waiting for their next meal. However, what many people don’t realize is that alligators are actually excellent swimmers. Baby alligators are born with a natural instinct to swim, and they can often be found paddling around in ponds and streams. While alligators cannot breathe underwater, they are able to hold their breath for long periods of time, usually up to a few hours. And, in very cold water, an alligator can stay submerged for up to 24 hours. So, the next time you see an alligator basking in the sun, remember that this reptile is just as at home in the water as it is on land.
4. Baby alligators grow quickly.
Alligator hatchlings are typically 6-8 inches in length and can grow a few inches each year! Males can grow to be around 13 feet and can weigh over 500 pounds, whereas females grow to a slightly shorter length (9 feet) and can be around 200 pounds. What’s even more impressive is that alligators can live for up to 50 years in the wild. So, if you ever find yourself face-to-face with an alligator, remember that it might have seen a few decades more than you have!
An adult male American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) can grow to be 11 to 15 feet long, and adult female alligators can grow to be 8.5 to 10 feet long.
5. Baby alligators have distinct physical features.
Baby alligators are among the most interesting and exotic creatures in the world. These fascinating animals have several physical features that help them to survive in their natural habitat. For example, their four short legs include five toes on the front legs and only four toes on the back legs, which helps them move quickly through the water. Additionally, baby alligators have small eyes with two sets of eyelids. The inner eyelid is clear and helps to protect the eye while the alligator is underwater.
Upon hatching, baby alligators have a pointed “egg tooth” to help them break out of their shell, which eventually falls off. Baby alligators also hatch with a full mouth of sharp teeth, around 74 – 80 of them, making it a lot easier to slice through flesh. Despite this, alligators actually swallow their prey whole as their teeth are not meant for chewing, but instead to capture and hold down prey. All these physical features give baby alligators a unique appearance and ensure that they are well-adapted to their environment.
If you’re looking for a close-up encounter with some of the most fascinating creatures on earth, then a New Orleans swamp tour with Cajun Encounters is just what you need. Our knowledgeable tour guides will take you through the heart of Louisiana’s bayous on our 22-passenger flat-bottomed boats, where you’ll have the chance to see alligators in their natural habitat. You’ll be amazed at how these prehistoric reptiles have survived for so long, and you’ll get to see them in close proximity overlooking the waters in which they reside. So don’t wait any longer – book your tour today!