We know that a bunch of geese are a flock, a flock of crows is a murder, and a bunch of livestock would be called a herd. Well, what are a group of alligators called?
A group of alligators is called a congregation and is less frequently referred to by a second name simply- family. A congregation is most often used to refer to a gathering of an assembled body. In the world of alligators, younger and smaller alligators acquiesce in submission to the largest of the group.
Reasons Why Alligators Congregate
Though they don’t necessarily look it, alligators happen to be very social reptiles who don’t have a problem sharing space with others of their kind. However, there are some reasons why they congregate aside from social interaction.
Basking in the sun can occur either on the surface of a body of water or on the shores and banks of rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and swamps. The strength of the sun and year-round consistency of temperature limit the habitat of alligators to a great extent.
If temperatures wind up dropping too low, hibernation instincts begin to kick in, promoting a good long sleep for the gator, as is also typical to other reptiles and some mammals. When a congregation of alligators is observed, it is common to find them all basking in the sun knit closely positioned together.
Alligators are cold-blooded animals and rely heavily upon any heat source they can find. When basking in the sun, being close radiates heat toward one another, heating their blood and helping them to maintain a workable body temperature.
If something is unfortunate enough to stumble upon a congregation of alligators, it will be fortunate even to have a chance to get away with its life. Aside from lounging around, basking in the sun, and radiating heat toward one another, a congregation of alligators will also share a kill with others.
Granted, the “sharing” isn’t necessarily voluntary, as other gators will impose themselves upon the kill of another gator, taking advantage of whatever food it can grab. This behavior sets off a chain reaction that can often be described as nothing less than a feeding frenzy.
Alligators are apex predators in most areas of the world. But like all apex predators, they need to grow into the role.
In the United States, adult alligators don’t suffer any natural predators except for themselves and man, specifically after it outgrows all comers. But, until it begins to grow bigger and more dangerous, young alligators fall prey to all kinds of threats.
A very small percentage of hatchlings will grow into adulthood- approximately five out of 38, an average-sized clutch. This also assumes that the entire nest didn’t fall prey to total devastation by predators or weather-fueled flooding.
Mother alligators are well known to be fiercely protective of their surviving young. They’ll go to great lengths to prevent them from being harmed from the moment they’re hatched until they are ready to face the world independently. Young alligators leave their mother about two to three years after being hatched.
Before it’s time to go out and see the world, mothers will congregate together to protect their young from all surrounding predators who can handle taking on and eating little ones. They are threatened by birds, bobcats, snakes, otters, largemouth bass, raccoons, and mature alligators from birth to coming of age.
Yes, mothers are protecting their young from adult (typically male) threats. Cannibalism is not an issue in the world of this large predator, so mothers are extra cautious when a large male comes around.
There is safety and strength in numbers, which is provided through being a part of a congregation. If any natural predator that isn’t an adult male alligator attempts to make a quick meal from a young gator, they’ll likely die trying from a host of mature mothers.
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Do All Alligators Congregate?
For the most part, adult females, young males, and young females are all open to congregating in any number of individuals. They all join together and partake in the benefit of this group behavior.
On the other hand, adult males want nothing to do with any company at all and go out to search for a place where they can find solace. When they do carve out a piece of territory, they will defend it from all other animals, especially other alligators of all ages.
If it’s not mating season, nothing that doesn’t want to get eaten or otherwise killed or wounded is allowed into the territory of an adult male. But mating season brings a massive behavior change, and at this time, adult males will think nothing of intruding upon a congregation while the need is relevant.
What is a Group of Baby Alligators Called?
When a cluster of baby alligators are together, they are called a pod. Babies remaining in a pod makes it easier for mothers to stand guard over their young.
Mother Alligators are fierce protectors and have been known to collect the eggs in her mouth when she senses that the eggs are about to hatch. She will assist the hatching process by maneuvering them about inside her mouth until they are hatched.
Often, all other creatures on the face of the earth are the one place where a pod of hatchlings will continue to feel the safest until they grow a bit larger. They’ll dwell on top of the mother as they grow, making it easier and safer to relocate when desired.
After a certain age (within two to three years old), the babies will then leave the mother’s side to be on their own.
Everything does things for a reason, no matter the hardened and harsh image a creature might project in our eyes. Alligators do what they do by instinct and way of life. Being gathered in a congregation assists a population of gators be protected, kept warm, and well-fed.
Do Adult Male Alligators Eat Their Young?
It is well documented that adult male alligators show no display of parental purpose or connection regarding offspring. If they can get to them, they are willing to empty a nest of its clutch of eggs.
Hatchlings are not safe either, as they make for a quick snack. This can go on until a young alligator reaches a size where it can more readily defend itself from the adult males. (This is why congregations are so important in the world of youngsters and mothers.)
It’s not necessarily a territorial thing, particularly with smaller, more defenseless juveniles (at least helpless against a full-grown gator). They are natural opportunists that will not pass up on eating an easy meal of any kind, even if it means eating their own.
According to National Geographic, if they can fit it down their throats, it’s food. Whether it’s the same species or not is irrelevant. This naturally balances out the alligator population in the grand scheme of things, removing hungry mouths when food might begin to get more difficult to find.