Go Gators! Rangers take visitors into the belly of the beast

Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 03:46 PM.

As they grow, however, their list of predators dwindles. When they reach two or more feet, alligators' only predators are each other. From four to six feet, man is the only thing gators need look out for.

As the average gator hits eight to 10 feet, however, it becomes an "apex hunter."

"They will take down anything," said Roberts.

Alligators have been found up to 19 feet, 2 inches, but the average size of a full-grown alligator is about 11 or 12 feet and around 500 pounds. They live to be about 30 to 35 years old in the wild and 60 to 80 in captivity.

Females are ready to mate around 9 or 10 years old, while males are ready at about 7. The alligator mating season is prompted by temperature, and begins around early March. The males work to seduce the females, with snout touching, circling, bellowing, back rubbing, and bubble blowing.

Ultimately, though, it's lady's choice when it comes to picking a mate for the season.

From 20 to 50 alligator eggs are laid in a nest made of vegetation, mud and sand in late June to early July. If the temperature is 86 degrees, all of the babies born in late August or early September will be females. If the temperature is 91 degrees, all of the babies will be males. At any temperature in between, the babies will be mixed, male and female.

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