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Do Crocodiles and Alligators Care for Their Young?

Do Crocodiles and Alligators Care for Their Young
Crocodile on land

Yes, but only to a certain extent. Crocodiles and alligators do not feed their young, but they do protect their hatchlings from predators.

Despite this, many hatchling crocodiles and alligators die. There are many predators in the wild. Even birds can swoop down and eat the tiny alligators and crocodiles.

Do crocodiles care for their young?

West-African Crocodile (Crocodylus suchus)
West-African Crocodile (Crocodylus suchus)

Yes, crocodiles care for their young. Despite being a ferocious predator, a crocodile mother has “love” for her kids.

Mother crocs start their motherhood by digging a hole in the ground. It is in this hole that they lay their eggs. They then cover the hole with soil. Some crocodiles do this with a mound.

Typically, a crocodile lays between 30 and 60 eggs. The crocs make one nest per year. In addition, crocodiles also lay eggs once a year or every two years.

Unlike other reptiles, like the turtle, a crocodile does not leave its eggs. It may leave to look for food, but it will come back. The crocodile protects its eggs from animals that eat crocodile eggs, like the raccoon.

Once the baby crocs are ready to hatch, they chirp from inside the egg. The mother crocodile will come to the mound and remove the topsoil upon hearing the chirps. This action helps the baby crocs get out of the hole.

Despite having one of the strongest bites in the world, the mother croc can pick up an egg with its mouth gently and help it crack.

Related Article: Do Crocodiles and Alligators Drink Water?

How do crocodiles carry their babies?

The crocodile gathers her babies with her mouth. What the mother croc does is scoop the baby crocodiles in her mouth, then take them into the water.

When a croc scoops the babies, she also scoops soil. Once every juvenile is in her mouth, she goes to the water and release them.

Related Article: Do Crocodiles and Alligators Stop Growing?

How long does a crocodile stay with her young?

New Guinea Crocodile (Crocodylus novaeguineae)
New Guinea Crocodile (Crocodylus novaeguineae)

Many crocodile species tend to their young for a few months. If the place is suitable for the babies to find food, the mother may stick to the babies for a while.

However, if the food is scarce, the crocodile will encourage the juvenile crocs to disperse. The Nile crocodile is an exception, as it takes care of its young for up to two years.

During this period, the Nile juveniles are too small. They need to feed on insects. As they get bigger, they start attacking bigger prey like fish.

The mother also protects the crocs from predators, including other crocs. Once the juveniles are no longer babies, they can become target for dominant crocs.

Crocodiles cannibalize others to maintain their control over their territories. On some occasions, there is food scarcity, and juvenile crocs are no match against the adult ones.

Related Article: Do Crocodiles and Alligators Shed Their Skin?

Do alligators care for their young?

Yes, alligators care for their young. A female alligator guards her eggs and is always on high alert during the incubation period.

Once the eggs hatch, the baby alligators instinctively go to the water themselves. Sometimes, the mother alligator will scoop her babies to carry them to the water.

How do alligators carry their babies?

Crocodile with Turtle

Alligators do not carry their babies to the water all the time, but it happens. Usually, the juveniles go to the water on their own. From here, the mother gator stands guard.

Baby gators are highly vulnerable to predators. In the US, baby gators are prey for raccoons, birds, bobcats, and even other alligators.

Typically, young alligators will stay with their mothers for two years. After that, the baby gators are expected to take care of themselves.

Why do crocodiles and alligators eat the babies?

Crocodiles and alligators do only eat the babies—they also eat other adults. Generally, crocs and gators eat each other because food is scarce.

Crocs and gators eat each other to reduce their population. A big population means more competition for food. In any given environment, it is likely that they there will one day be an imbalance between food supply and demand from the crocs and gators.

To solve this problem, the crocs and gators eat the smaller ones. Once these small gators and crocs are gone, few will grow to become adults.

Do male crocodiles and alligators care for their babies?

Brown and tan alligator
Brown and tan alligator

Sometimes, the father crocodile digs the babies and takes them to the water. There is one recorded incident about this.

Researchers saw a male crocodile digging into a nest after the baby crocs hatched. It was supposed to be the mother doing this. The male croc scooped the hatchlings and carried them to the water.

A female croc in the water chased other adult females. Apparently, this female was the mother of the hatchlings. The specific species for this incident was the mugger crocodile. Alligators, on the other hand, do not do this. The same thing goes for many crocodile species.

The researchers presume that male mugger crocs care for their babies because a female croc produces two nests of eggs. The female croc lays two batches of eggs, usually 40 days apart.

If the mother is caring for the first batch of eggs, the father will take the role of the mother for the second batch.

Do father crocodiles and alligators recognize their babies?

Chinese Alligator
Chinese Alligator

There is no documentation about crocodile recognition as far as their young ones go. However, the general consensus is that they do not recognize their own.

Once the baby crocs and alligators are old enough, the bigger ones may set sight on them as prey. Each croc must care for itself, or it may end up as dinner for the bigger ones.

As pets, crocodiles and alligators do not recognize their owners. Despite what some people say, crocodiles and alligators are not emotionally bonded with humans or other animals.

Summary

Crocodiles and alligators are good parents. It is a shocking thing to know that they care for their babies. The parenthood starts from the digging of the nest, then ends about after two years when the baby crocs and gators are big enough to fend for themselves.

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