Allie’s Nest Excavation
November 5, 2015
We had a big night at the Swamp Park excavating Allie’s nest and learned some important information! Allie did in fact lay 30+ eggs but they were infertile! A big thanks to Mr. David Evans and crew for helping solve the mystery of Allie’s nest, infertile eggs were laid in the nest, probably due to shallow water depths in the enclosure.
Meet Allie our mother alligator that is keeping a watchful eye over her nest. We have cameras inside this habitat area and this video shows those cameras at work back to a computer.
Allie, one of our alligators in captivity here at the Okefenokee Swamp Park, has built a nest! She has built a large nest about 6 feet wide and 3 feet high. Her nest could contain anywhere from 30 to 60 eggs. She has built the nest out of fallen leaves, moss, muck, and other detritus. Allie keeps the vegetation on the nest wet by splashing water on it. As the vegetation decays, it produces heat to incubate the eggs. The temperature of the nest during the first two weeks of the gestation period determines the sex of the baby alligators. If her nest is 90 degrees or above, the babies will all be males. If the nest is 86 degrees or below, they will all be females. Temperatures between 86-90 degrees will hatch a mixture of both males and females.
It takes roughly 60 to 70 days for the eggs to hatch. After hatching, the baby alligators will start making a clucking sound to signal Allie to uncover her offspring. When hatched, the young alligators will be about 6 inches long. For the first 6 or 7 years, the small gators will grow about 12 inches a year. This is a critical time in the survival of the offspring, as small gators make easy prey for a variety of species in the Okefenokee Swamp. Large fish, raccoons, bobcats, otters, snakes, and even other mature alligators have been known to eat juvenile alligators. A full grown alligator can reach a length of up to 15 feet and weigh upwards of 700 pounds.