Harvest Season at Alligator Alley – Let’s Get Crackin’
Each year around this time, alligator eggs, also known as hatchlings, are harvested at the farm and hatch during the month of September. While we may not have any hatchlings at the farm right now, the harvest season is a fascinating one to learn about.
Alligators mate from mid-April through the end of May. A female alligator will typically lay 35 eggs that will incubate in the nest for up to 65 days. Nests are often located along banks of ponds or marshes and are ten feet in diameter and up to three feet high. Mama gators protect their nests using vegetation such as mud, plants, sticks and grass.
During the month of August, if we have hatchlings on the farm, our staff assists the mother gator in the harvesting process by retrieving eggs from her nest and placing them in an incubator. Many hatchlings in the wild do not survive due to predators and natural disasters, so here at the farm, incubation protects the eggs and helps them grow and remain healthy.
Once the eggs begin to hatch, hatchlings use their egg tooth, a special tooth baby alligators develop, to break free from their shells. The mama alligators watch and protect their young until they are ready to take on the world on their own. This typically takes about a year and then the baby alligators will join a “pod” or group of baby alligators. Pods stay together, protecting one another from predators. Once our alligators reach four feet in length and transition into adulthood, they are considered safe in the wild or at the farm, except maybe to other, larger alligators.
Now you know all there is to know about harvesting season at Alligator Alley. Stop by and visit all your alligator friends and be sure to hold them and snap a picture or two!