Yes, alligators and crocodiles are territorial. Different kinds of alligators and crocodiles live in various habitats around this world, and they have territorial instincts like other predators.
As with any animal species, alligators and crocodiles are protective of their families. Mother crocs and gators protect their eggs. The big male ones, even the female ones, protect their territory and can become aggressive.
What does territorial even mean?
Territorial animals tend to protect their territory from the invasion of others, even their own. These animals set their boundaries in multiple ways like scents from the skin glands, bird songs, etc.
Other animals of the same species get familiar with these boundaries, but sometimes they attack or invade the territorial areas.
Setting up territorial boundaries helps the animals to raise their young ones where there is little competition for food, mate without interruption, settle into their homes, and avoid predators and overcrowding.
Alligators and crocodiles are known to have territorial instincts where the level may vary according to different kinds. Some may be more territorial, while others may not be. The adults of both species are generally more territorial than the young ones.
Large male alligators are territorial. They are found in large groups where the biggest ones defend their boundaries. Both female and male alligators have involvementin protecting their area.
However, smaller alligators don’t usually get aggressive over other similar size alligators invading their areas. Usually, there are more males in the group.
Alligators are also territorial. The female alligators guard their eggs. The female alligator also helps the young grow up to one year while staying within the territory.
As the alligators grow old, they become the apex predator in their territory. They are generally not as aggressive as crocodiles unless provoked in some way.
When humans start constructions on alligator territory, gators move and set new boundaries but don’t go far. They tend to show territorial behaviour even during drought or mating season.The maximum size of territory a male alligator up to 14 feet can own is 3 square miles.
Crocodiles are known to be more aggressive compared to alligators. From amongst its kind, saltwater crocodiles are the most territorial species. Crocodiles compete with each other for territory, and this competition is fierce.
Both male and female adults are aggressive towards other adults. They carefully pick their territory and normally keep it smaller in size, even less than a kilometre sometimes.
The female crocodiles tend to drive out other females of their kind so they do not nest inside their territory. The adults, on the other hand, have strict territorial behaviour during the breeding season.
Fights often break out between the adult male crocodiles and the invaders by vigorous hissing until the crocs swim away. The males usually challenge the intruders by lifting their heads and arching their tails, intending the intruder to swim away.
The saltwater crocodiles even defend their territory against human beings. They can attack humans to hunt for food or even for self-defense.
The crocodiles fight by using their head. They lift their head and body out of the water and smash the intruder. Male crocs often fight to mark their territory. Sometimes, these fighst can end in a lost limb, and sometimes even death.
Do crocodiles and alligators attack humans to protect their territory?
Yes, but it is much more complicated than that. Crocodiles are generally more aggressive, and some species are even known to prey on humans
Among all crocodiles, the Nile and the saltwater crocodiles are the worst. They have a reputation—and a documented one at that—for preying on human beings. They prey not just on the weak but on strong people.
Hundreds of attacks happen because of these crocodiles, and about 25% of crocodile attacks are fatal. The crocs attack because the river is their territory. And whatever is in their territory is their food.
The alligators, on the other hand, are a different story. They are shy animals, and they are afraid of humans. Typically, they will go away from humans, but alligator attacks are not unheard of.
Alligators are afraid of humans because people hunt gators. There are only two gator species left, and the Chinese alligator is critically endangered because of human hunting.
The American alligator has a thriving population, but there is a hunting season for them. In the United States, there is even a TV program that shows people hunting the alligators.
The US allows people to hunt alligators down to reduce the gator population. Most of the hunt happens in Louisiana. People need a permit to hunt gators, and they must buy tags from the government to hunt.
Alligator hunting is a way of living for some people in the US. Because of this activity, the alligators learned to shy away from humans—they know that humans in the vicinity means death.
Crocodiles and alligators are so territorial that they may even eat their kind. It is not unusual for these animals to eat others, especially the juveniles. They do this to reduce the population and to protect their territory.
Even in captivity, a crocodile may mark its territory and eat a young one. It has been well documented that these animals are cannibals.
Why are crocodiles and alligators territorial?
They are territorial because of food. Also, there are other reasons for their being territorial. For the gators, they are territorial because they are protecting their young.
Crocodiles, on the other hand, are territorial by nature. Once a croc has gotten so big, it begins to think of itself as the king of its domain. And rightfully so. A huge crocodile is powerful.
Alligators and crocodiles both can be called territorial animals. The crocodiles, however, tend to have more territorial characteristics as they are over-protective and tremendously aggressive.
The adults of both species, including males and females care for their offspring by guarding them in their territory. Both also show defensive behaviour during mating season.