ALLIGATORS AT BRAZOS BEND STATE PARK page 7
BABY ALLIGATORS
This page was born 9/08/2002.  Rickubis designed it.  (such as it is.) Last update: 10/06/2002
Images and contents on this page copyright © 2002 Richard M. Dashnau

 Here are my other alligator pages:                  OR,  FOR OTHER ANIMALS:
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1  Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 2 Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 2
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 3 Spiders at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 4
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 5
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 6
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 8

This is page 7 of my continuing observations of alligators ( and some other animals) at Brazos Bend State Park.
August 18, 2002 Most important news: WE GOT RAIN at the park! About 9 inches worth, and now the park looks like it should.  Unfortunately, the two alligator nests by the Creekfield trail were threatened by the raised water level. In fact, one nest was totally submerged, so the eggs were relocated.  The other nest was left alone, since the top of it was still above water.  The nest looked like this before the rain (see DRY NEST, below.) And now, it looks like this (see WET NEST, below.)
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           DRY NEST                    WET NEST
August 25, 2002 Most important news: BABY ALLIGATORS at the park!  Readers may recall that a few weeks ago (see heading August 18 above) the park naturalists had to relocate 28 eggs from an alligator nest that had flooded. On wednesday, August 21, the eggs hatched! Actually, 19 of the 28 eggs hatched. The remaining 9 eggs turned out to have been infertile. Not bad! Not bad at all! I wish I could have been there, but alas, I was at work, and the eggs began hatching around 3:00 pm. However, today (Sunday) I was able to visit the new additions to the park. The image below (SOME HANDFUL) shows my hand holding some of these new alligators. The young gators were surprisingly docile, and did not show much alarm at my approach. Of course I only handled these animals with permission from the park naturalists. More images of these 4-day-old babies follow.
They are about 9 inches long (YOUNG SIZE, below). We have 3 live alligators in the Visitor's Center that were born almost a year ago.  Here are two pictures comparing the two. Note that the young in the VC are not fed as often as they'd like to be, but they *do* eat all year.
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  SOME HANDFUL              YOUNG SIZE                      COUSIN?           BIG DEAL, ONE YEAR
Therefore the wild alligators may be a bit larger than this one. (see COUSIN?, and BIG DEAL, ONE YEAR, above). Even after 4 days, the yolk sack they are born with is still visible (see YOLK SACK, below)
Like many other reptiles, alligators are born with a "Developmental Chamber Escape Tool" (my term), otherwise known as an "egg tooth".  This is a temporary sharp "tooth" that is usually at the tip of the skull (near the nostrils), that is used to tear through the egg membrane, and sometimes the softer shells of reptile eggs. Sometime later, this "tooth" falls off.  Here is a young alligator's face (see BABY PICTURE, below) and a close-up of the egg tooth (EGG TOOTH, below). The egg tooth is the white triangular spot on the tip of the snout. The entire young alligator, as it lies quietly in my hand (IN MY HAND, below).

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  YOLK SACK                           BABY PICTURE                      EGG TOOTH                ------IN MY HAND
Also, David (park naturalist) attempted to give these young alligators their first meal. Remember, there are born with a yolk sack, and this sustains them for their first few days of life.  Two of the young alligators did take the food (large chunks of diced earthworm...LE YUM!), while most of them ignored it; although a few did bite on the worms, chew them and spit them out.  I was able to get a few film clips of this first successful feeding.
Here are three links (the pictures below are from the clips):
 4-day-olds, with a few chirps. (flv video 433kb, see BROTHERS AND SISTERS , below)
 4-day-old's first attack (real video 503kb, see AM I SUPPOSED TO EAT THIS?, below).
 4-day-old's first prey (flv video 478kb, see MMMMM...BOY!, below).

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   BROTHERS AND SISTERS           AM I SUPPOSED TO EAT THIS?                      MMMMM...BOY!
This was a pretty successful hatching. Usually, the mother alligator would have assisted with this hatching. That means that when the babies started croaking, the mother would have gently scraped the top off the nest and helped the babies leave their eggs. The mother gators have been observed gently cracking the shells in their jaws, and carrying the live babies to the water.  Even after the hatching the mother will protect her young, for two years or so.  In spite of all this protection, one alligator in 60 (yes--ONE IN SIXTY) will survive the first 3 years of life. This high mortality rate is due mostly to predation by numerous animals which view young alligators as a food item. These can include snakes, turtles, wading birds, fish (remember the giant alligator gar we found at the park?), raccoons, river otters (these have been observed at Brazos Bend State Park), and other alligators. A particularly severe winter can also cause smaller alligators to die.  Therefore, I considered myself very lucky to be able to observe such a group of newborn alligators so closely.
Additional August 27 follows!
If you were able to watch and hear the video clip with sound, then you heard 3 sounds, sort of like a cross between a chirp and a croak. Juvenile alligators make these sounds. The following information is drawn from:
Crocodilian Biology and Evolution, Gordon C. Grigg, ed. Feb, 2001. The information is in Chapter 30, written by Adam R. C. Britton. (italics are my own conclusions/thoughts)
This chapter deals with crocodilians in general, but seems to indicate that the different species share similar behaviors. In any case, it's interesting.  From before they are born, young crocodilians vocalize. They begin chirping
while still inside the egg. This is thought to alert nearby adults (usually the mother, since she is normally guarding the nest) to approach the nest.  Apparently, even male animals will respond with assistance (That is, they don't come to eat the young.) An interesting point is that other animals, notably predators, could also be alerted by these sounds, and could also
respond. If they reach the before the adult crocodilian, then the young wouldn't survive.  Then, after they are born, the young alligators will continue to make various sounds. What is most interesting is that there are different sounds for
different situations, or to give different messages. The chapter lists 5 different calls (possibly 6). This is only one study. As with all scientific work, it is subject to further experimentation and verification. Calls in the study were analyzed with sonograms, and broken down into components. So, many differences between the calls are quite subtle, and difficult, if not
impossible to detect by humans.  Some of these signals can probably be read by context.  The 5 main types were: Hatching, Contact, Threat, Annoyance, and Distress.

 1.  Hatching Calls--these were divided into "pre-hatching", and "post-hatching" calls. The study gives differences between
calls as occurring from milliseconds of duration, frequency, and harmonic.  The "pre-hatching" call is thought to cause the adult to open the nest, while the "post hatching" call may help the adult locate the newborn to carry it to the water. There is also mention of another possible sound that may prevent the adult from swallowing the young while it's being carried in
the adult's mouth. However, some of these difference could be due to physical conditions around the baby, such as the egg muffling the sound (I suppose being inside an adult's mouth might cause produced sounds to be seem different also.) For those who wonder, the chapter *does* mention that how the babies can produce sounds *inside* the egg isn't known.
2.  Contact Calls-- are given from time to time, and are probably used so the young animals can recognize their group. That is, this call helps keep the pod together. Sometimes one baby approaching another will make one of these sounds. Sometimes it gets an answer. These are probably the sounds that are being made on my video clip. These happen in non-threatening situations. Young crocodilians (hereafter,  just "crocs") apparently respond to this sound favorably, sometimes
responding to similar sounds made by other non-threatening animals, or even the adult female.
3.  Threat calls--With the social behavior of depending on adult animals for protection, young crocs normally will seek to escape, hide, and call for an adult if threatened (Who wouldn't want a dragon 10 times their size that they
could call on for help? A baby alligator is 9 inches long. A large female is 9 feet, or 108 inches long.)  . On rare occasions, however, they will attempt to face down their tormentor.  When doing so, they will show aggressive body postures
while making the noise. These sounds seem to be quite different from the other vocalizations. (From what I can see, these are more related to loud "hissing" noises the the "croaking" noises.)
4.  Annoyance calls--These are high-pitched sounds that a young croc might make after it has been grabbed. These are used in conjunction with attempts to bite their attacker.  There is no evidence either way that shows an adult would respond to these calls. These are generally a higher pitch than "distress calls".
5.  Distress calls--These occur when a young croc feels threatened. They seem to be primarily for summoning an adult. Adults other than the actual parent may respond. These calls can also serve as a warning to other juveniles in the area (probably in the same pod) that there is trouble.  One drawback of this behavior is that the caller could be eaten before help could arrive.

Another concept I hadn't considered was an alligator's voice changing as it grows (similar to the way ours does). As they grow, and some species can grow to more than 10 times their birth size, the structures that make the sounds also grow. Generally, the "peak frequency" of their calls lowers.  That is, their voices get deeper. There is mention that adults respond more rapidly to higher-pitched distress calls, than to lower ones.  I surmise that after a certain point, the adult no longer recognizes or responds to a distress call that falls outside a certain frequency window. Although they still may make distress calls, the adult will not respond. I also believe that with this comes another behavior, where the young alligator has become large enough to be recognized as a threat to the current brood, and may be chased off.  I see many alligators around 3 feet long by themselves at the park.  I see few between 2 and 3 feet long alone.  If this interests you at all, I urge you to locate the book, and either buy it or borrow it. The book is a collection of different papers by different study groups. Much of it is quite technical, but it's still interesting.

September 01, 2002 The image below (SMILE!) shows me taking a picture of a snake that I found on Elm Lake trail. The snake might be a yellow belly water snake.  I'm taking this picture (and holding the snake) because it appeared to be injured in the head. The snake was very thin, and appeared not to have eaten for some time. A pair of park visitors took this picture with their camera and then were nice enough to email it to me.  The image below left (HURT SNAKE) shows what I was taking a picture of while my picture was being taken.  I don't like to bother that animals at Brazos Bend State Park unless it's absolutely necessary.  This snake appeared on the trail as I was hurrying back to the Visitor's Center. Before I saw the snake, though, and after I'd been photographing spiders, I saw a LARGE alligator on the trail. (See SPEED BUMP W/TEETH, below.) As I approached him, he got up and sauntered off the trail.( See THERE HE GOES, below)
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            SMILE!                             HURT SNAKE           SPEED BUMP WITH TEETH       THERE HE GOES                UH,OH! THE BIG MOM!
Around 10:00 am,  that Sunday, we gathered together to release the week-and-a-half old alligator hatchlings. The plan was to  lure one of the mother alligators in Creekfield lake (one of those that had nested there), and then release the babies to her.
First, we tried the larger nest, the one I've pictured before. The female who'd made this nest was very large, around 8 feet long. We carefully approached the nest, but the female hadn't been seen near it for at least a week. I assumed/hoped that the eggs had hatched, and she had left with the young. David began playing a recording of young alligator chirping. There was no response. So, since there were so many of us to look out for an angry mother, David decided to inspect the nest. He found that it was filled with eggs. He took one out, and noticed some odor. When he broke this egg open, nothing but egg contents (undeveloped, that is) came out. It was infertile. He took out another and opened it.  Inside was a fully formed baby...dead. What a great disappointment. The young one looked like it was within days of hatching. The nest had apparently been flooded during the rainstorm that made the removal of the other eggs necessary. However, this one had probably flooded overnight, and although briefly, it was long enough to suffocate the eggs. There was nothing that could have been done any differently. The eggs were thought to be safe, and the mother was large, and had been aggressively guarding her nest. We were all saddened by this discovery.
However, we had better business to attend to...the live babies. So, we went to the long pier, and the nest where the eggs had come from. We spread out along the boardwalk and the deck at the end (well I was there). David again played the chirping. I think we waited for about 10 minutes, and then I saw the mother approach from the far end of the pier. She came straight in without hesitation. I sounded the alert, and then we all watched for her. The last place David needed to be was near the nest, and the babies, when the mother got close.  So, we watched. John saw her next, as she poked her nose out from under the pier. She'd traveled under the boardwalk until she was close to the nest.  This was still about 20 feet away.
Then, she started moving towards the nest. David released the babies quickly and gently, and moved away. The female slowly approached and we watched--I think we were all worried--as the mother got close to the babies. Would she eat them? Turn and leave? Here are 3 video clips that show what happened. Click the links below the three pictures (nest 2a, 2b, 2c) to see the clips.
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               NEST 2A (608KB)                           NEST 2B (854KB)               NEST 2C (683KB)           THE MOTHER AND BABIES(640 X 480)
                                                                                                               MPEG   NEST 2C (2492KB)  ONLY THE LAST CLIP IS ALSO IN MPEG FORMAT.
She did neither. She just started mothering, alligator-style. She seemed to move around, to allow the young to see her.  Some of the babies were on the far side of the nest from her, and although it was very low, she would not climb up onto it. She could hear the babies on the other side (by the way, once her presence was known, all the babies began chirping. What a unique sound! It sounded like a little battle taking place with ray guns.)  Also blocking her way were two logs, which she also would not climb over. She finally was able to go under them, and look at the babies over there. Generally, when the young alligators saw her, they would move towards her.  Then, she began pushing the logs away, and generally clearing a space around the nest. She stationed herself in this cleared area, and submerged herself, leaving just her head exposed.  We watched for about 30 minutes. I was happy with the results. The young were reunited with their mother! But...the drama had yet another act to follow.
Around 4:00pm, I decided to go by one last time, to check on the mother and the babies. When I got there, I saw that Glen had set up a spotting scope and tripod on the boardwalk for inspection of the nest. While I was there, he packed up, and left.  For some reason, a large number of park visitors started appearing on the Creekfield trail. There were about 8 people on the boardwalk, and I was talking about alligators (I bet that's a surprise to some of you! Or not. Ha ha ha), when one of the visitors exclaimed something like " Holy cow! There's a huge alligator on the trail! "  I quickly moved to the land ward end of the boardwalk, and yes, there was a large alligator there! (See, UH, OH, THE BIG MOM above)  Of course, all the visitors wanted to see it, but this alligator was right next to the only way off the boardwalk. I asked them to stop moving, and I moved towards the alligator...and she hissed.  "Ok." I said, " Everyone move back and give it some room." I guessed that this was the large female whose eggs we'd discovered were dead that morning.  Why she came from uphill, towards the observatory, was a mystery to all of us.  I supposed that she was responding to the chirps from the baby alligators, though. She got up and moved under the boardwalk, then came out the other side and took a few steps towards the nest and babies. The two females were at least 20 feet apart, and separated by grass and vegetation. But, I still believe they were aware of each other. The newcomer turned and went back under the boardwalk. Sometime during this, Glen returned with the spotting scope, and set it back up. More park visitors appeared. While we were answering questions, the large female (if that's who she was) gave one loud, short growl. Then, a little later, she could be seen skulking around at the end of the pier, under the wide deck. Her nose was pointed directly at the nest and other female. I left then, to go home.
For those who are wondering, I returned the following Monday, and found the mother and her babies peacefully lying around. I saw no sign of the larger alligator.
September 08, 2002 The baby alligators that were released a week ago seem to be doing fine, although I only counted 7 of the new hatchlings (we'd released 8), and both of the yearlings (we'd released two). The youngsters were out foraging, and swimming around. The mother wasn't anywhere visible, but I assume she was under the boardwalk. (See 2 BIG AND ONE SMALL, GATOR PILE, and LITTLE CHOMPER, below.) Click on the links to see flv video clips of the little alligators.
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                         2 BIG AND ONE SMALL                               GATOR PILE                                        LITTLE CHOMPER
                                                                          GATORPILE VIDEO 443KB            LITTLE CHOMPER VIDEO 400KB

August 07, 2003  Finally, we got to do a survey of alligator nests at the park. There were only two of us (Park Naturalist David Heinicke and I), and we had difficulties getting to where we wanted to (LOTS of weeds, and the ARGO couldn't get to the islands as we'd planned).  No nest count was done last year, although at least 5 nests were seen and reported. The nests reported last year were all visible from areas that most visitors normally travel. No such nests were seen this year. We managed to inspect quit a few islands, though. This was fairly difficult, considering we were wearing rubber waders in 100-plus-degree heat, and had to to a lot of walking on land through underbrush (in the waders! Whew! HOT!). That is, once we got to the islands in the first place. The heat also served to keep the alligators not only IN the water, but under it, or at least in the shade. So, while wading from island to island, we didn't see any, although we heard two or three splash somewhere nearby, unseen. In all the area we searched, we only found ONE nest. This is very unfortunate, and is probably due to the low amount of rain the park has received this year(Claudette didn't give the park much rain); and the drainage of Pilant Slough last spring. The picture below (DON'T EVEN)  shows the female guarding the nest we found.  The red in her eye is from my camera flash. Even in daylight, those eyes will reflect light!  While David cautiously approached the nest closely enough to get a GPS reading, I stayed further back, and watched the area between the nest and the water's edge.  It didn't take long for the female to appear, and she was at least 7 feet long. She approached the shore, and then slid up out of the water, very quietly. Once she spotted David, (who was at least 10 feet from the nest on the landward side-that is on the opposite side from the female.), she rushed to the edge of her mound, with her mouth gaping. We both backed off, and she advanced no further; but just kept an eye on us.  Seeing that we were not bothering her nest, she closed her mouth, but still watched us carefully. We left. The picture below (FEMALE) shows the nest with the female. Look how large she made the mound!
Remember, female alligators will vigorously protect a nest. DO NOT EVER APPROACH AN ALLIGATOR NEST! First, it is dangerous; second, without authorization, it's illegal.
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         DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT         FEMALE TO LEFT OF NEST        KEEPING AN EYE ON THE KIDS
                                                                            (640 X 480 HERE)
August 17, 2003  Good news! Another alligator nest was found in the park! While this still isn't as many as we'd like, it's better than just ONE nest. Also, one of the volunteers went to scout out a good place to set a photo blind to catch the hatching of the first nest (the one we found last week). When he got there, he saw the nest had been broken into, and there were eggshells scattered about.  Fearing the worst, he and one of the Park Naturalists  went to investigate the damage--where they were met by a protective female who had 17 baby alligators near her.  Yes! The eggs had hatched! Generally alligator eggs don't hatch until the end of August in our park, so these alligators are a bit early.  This all happened yesterday (Saturday). Today, I got to accompany Park Naturalist David out to the nest to see the babies, and perhaps find out if there were any eggs still in the nest.   The picture above (KEEPING AN EYE ON THE KIDS) shows the mother in front of some of the babies (640 X 480 HERE). The babies are up on the bank behind her. We were across this small body of water, so she didn't perceive us as a threat, although she did turn to get a better look at us (see WHAT'RE YOU UP TO?, below).  Trying to count baby alligators from 50 feet away is difficult when they are on a mudbank and in dappled sunlight. Don't believe me? Take a look at (COUNT 'EM, below). Then, we went back around and tried to approach the nest from her blind side (keeping the nest between us and her). However, when David got close, she lunged out of the water, and ran the 15 feet or so from the water to her nest, where she stopped and watched us (see MY NEST, below). Whether this was in defense of her nest, or of her already-hatched babies was unclear. So, we left.
Remember, female alligators will vigorously protect a nest. DO NOT EVER APPROACH AN ALLIGATOR NEST! First, it is dangerous; second, without authorization, it's illegal.
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WHAT'RE YOU UP TO?  MY NEST, YOUR PAIN!       CAN YOU COUNT 'EM?
                                        (640 X 480 HERE)

One other thing happened.  Somehow, over the last week, I turned 47 years old.  Oh, well. The babies tried to make my birthday.        -----

August 27, 2003  When the "second" alligator nest was inspected today, it was discovered that the eggs had hatched!  Since the eggs we had in the VC/NC came from that nest (we had 12), it was decided to hatch them this afternoon.  I was informed of this plan, and was able to leave work early to help. EXCELLENT!
Once it was time to start, I watched one of our very knowledgeable park naturalists, Sharon Hanzik, open an egg. The images below show how an expert does it.
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CAREFULLY CUT SHELL                  PEEL THE SHELL                       REMOVE THE SHELL            REMOVE MEMBRANES            2003 MODEL 'GATOR!

Well, I'd never done it before, so I was a little nervous; probably because, the thought of holding one of these newborn "dragons" in my palm  while it took its first view of the world was kind of important to me.
The three pictures below (HATCHING part 1, 2, 3) are frames from video that was taken for me with my video camera by one of the rangers. (Thanks, Dusty!).  Click on the captions below the pictures to see the flv video clips. I wanted to get more photos, but after my first egg, my hands were a bit...gooey.
In the wild, no one can say how long one of these babies would survive. Although they are protected by the female alligator, only one in sixty will survive the first three years (there were 35 in this nest). The babies that we have in the VC/NC usually have their survival assured, at least for the first year. Generally they are released after about a year and a half--put back into a pod of babies with a mother in the wild. The female will accept them and protect them, as long as they are small enough and make the sounds which allow the adult female to recognize them as young alligators (though not necessarily her offspring).  It is surprising, but babies kept captive for a year or so will still recognize an adult female alligator, and will begin feeding and acting just like the "wild" babies immediately. They seem retain have memory at all of human contact at this age.
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 HATCHING PART 1(859 kb)      HATCHING PART 2(1908 kb  )HATCHING PART 3(1809 kb) AND *I* HELPED!(199 kb)
I was able to assist the hatching of 2 eggs. The picture below (BRAND SPANKIN' NEW) is the baby that came out of the second one. The video clips are from the first egg. After I'd done the first egg, someone (I must admit that my mind wasn't really on the people around me. I was watching the babies.) said something about me looking at the camera as a proud papa. The picture above (I HELPED) was my response to this. Yes, there is a link to that clip also, since it's good to laugh now and then, even at me.
As time permits, I'll track down some more facts about crocodilian eggs and they will show up here.
FURTHER NOTE, SUNDAY AUG. 31:  Out of the first 12 eggs that were borrowed from the nest, 11 had live young, and one was not fertile. Out of the 11 hatched, about 4 seemed a bit "premature". They had large yolk sacs and were a bit weaker than the rest.  Today, 4 days later, one of the "preemies" had not survived, though all the others seem to be ok. Two of those were still in a separate tank although showing signs of being stronger, and one has been put in the tank with the other, bigger ones. All of them are vigorous and alert (see FOUR DAYS OLD, below). Four days ago, when the nest was found to have hatched, 3 eggs had been abandoned there, and three hatched babies were near the nest, covered in fire ants. But they were saved, and are part of our group.
They haven't been fed yet (normally they don't eat for about a week), but I was able to observe the wild siblings through a spotting scope this morning (they're hard to pick out), and I saw them feeding. So, hopefully our adopted babies will be eating soon.
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     BRAND SPANKIN' NEW                         FOUR DAYS OLD    

September 07, 2003  It was just a beautiful day. The weather was milder than it had been in a while.  I was walking the trails when I spotted the alligator in the picture below (Baskin' Baby) lying up near the Spillway Trail.  As I stood there, talking to park visitors, this small alligator turned and started down towards the water. In the meantime, another small alligator (there were 4 more in the water and all of these were about 1.5-2.0 feet long) began swimming towards the shore. Near the time the gator on land had turned and started walking towards the water, the other one began walking up--right towards the same spot, right in front of us. There was a small opening pressed in the grass between the water and the trail, and both of these small alligators passed each other. As they did, the one that had been on land made a few vocalisations, which were answered a few times from the others in the water. The second one is in the picture below (See MY TURN, below)From what I can hear, the alarm chirping of the juvenile alligators sounds like "eeyurp! eeyurp!" with a higher pitch at the "eey".  The "all is well", or recognition chirp sounds, to me, like "urp! urp!" with a sort of straight sound across the chirp.  What I heard were these recognition chirps.   It's also possible that these alligators were from a pod sighted in the area last year, and might just be a year old. In the wild, though, they grow better.
Then, around 11:30, Sharon called me on the radio to report alligators bellowing near the lower-numbered piers at Elm Lake. This was a surprise, and I was a little disappointed. Until, about 15 minutes later, alligators started bellowing near me on the Spillway Trail. Park visitors mentioned that it seemed that the alligators were bellowing all around Elm and Pilant Lakes. This was GREAT! Although I couldn't see them bellow, it was still great to hear.
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                                           BASKIN' BABY                                    IT'S MY TURN
I'll also mention that we only lost one of our captive-hatched alligators from a week and a half ago. ALL the rest are fine, strong, and eating well! IS THAT COOL, OR WHAT?

September 28, 2003  Was the weather this weekend great, or WHAT? After a lot of driving Saturday (to San Antonio and back), I got out to see the alligators (well, I hoped so) Sunday. I got there about 8:30 am, and after getting a radio, and talking to some people at the VC/NC, I headed out to Elm Lake. This was about 9:00. I hadn't been out of the car 5 minutes, when I heard an alligator bellowing off somewhere near the Elm Lake pavilion. I hurried around the Elm Lake trail, hoping to be in time to actually see some alligators bellowing since, if one alligator begins bellowing, others usually answer.
I think I was near pier number 3 when I began hearing other alligators, just a couple, off in the distance. As I walked down the trail towards pier 7, I heard one, and then another begin bellowing. Some were in Pilant Slough, some were in Elm Lake, and some were in Pilant Lake. This bellowing went on until around 10:00 am. I never got to see any of the bellowers, but hearing them certainly made my day (as it always does)!
Since the greatest volume of bellowing happens in the springtime, during mating season, quite a few people were wondering why the alligators are bellowing now. I've heard that Sharon Hanzik, one of the Park Naturalists, feels that they may be dividing up their territories to prepare for the coming cool weather. Sharon knows her stuff, and has a lot of experience at the park (years and years!).  Sounds like a good reason to me.
I had to head back into the VC/NC to prepare for a program I was presenting, but on the way back, I stopped by to check on a visitor report of sighting some baby alligators. Since this was near the area where one of the nests had been (see the August 17, and August 7 entries); I hoped that these were the same babies. No one had seen them for a while.  I wasn't prepared when I surprised them (I'd thought they were further along the trail), and so I alarmed them. They were between me and the sun, which is why the photo (THERE'S THE BABY, below) is so harshly exposed. Unfortunately, they were already giving alarm chirps (though not frantically), so I figured that the mother was already alerted. So, I couldn't move around them so the solar glare wasn't in my eyes, since there was water on both sides of the trail.  So, the mother could have been hidden on either side of the trail.  I took a step, and stopped. Another step, and stopped. But, the babies still chirped, and I waited for some kind of movement, so I could be sure where the mother was. See, she could have been near the trail I'd already passed over. Until she made an appearance, I couldn't know which way to go. Until she made an appearance, I couldn't submit gracefully without stressing the female alligator.  I don't like to stress the alligators.
Finally, she showed up (see HERE COMES MOM, below), and moved straight towards me, with her back high. Time to leave! So, I did.
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                                                           THERE'S THE BABY                     HERE COMES MOM-            ------

If you'd like to know more about the park follow these links:

Brazos Bend State Park   The main page.

Brazos Bend State Park Volunteer's Page  The volunteer's main page.
 

Here are a few links to more information on alligators. There's a LOT of it out there. The reason is, of course, that ALLIGATORS KICK ASS!

   Crocodilian.com

    Adam Britton's Pages 1

    Adam Britton's Pages 2

    Fish and Wildlife Page (Text)

    Fish and Wildlife Endangered Species

My other alligator pages:                                       OR,  FOR OTHER ANIMALS:
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page1   Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page2   Critters at Brazos Bend State Park Page 2
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 3  Spiders at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 4
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 5
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 6
Alligators at Brazos Bend State Park Page 8

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