Warm winter prompts early alligator mating season in Florida

The state's mild winter had these reptiles mating ahead of schedule this year. Wildlife officials said courtship usually begins in early April.

Love is in the air for Florida alligators.

The state's mild winter had these reptiles mating ahead of schedule this year, according to one expert. On March 14, Gatorland CEO Mark McHugh shared in an alligator safety video that the early spring weather the Sunshine State experienced this past winter could have confused the reptiles, causing them to mate a bit early.

Wildlife officials said courtship usually begins in early April, with mating occurring between May and June.

Male gators attract the ladies by lifting their tails and slapping the water with their jaws. Creating those vibrations in the water is what attracts the other alligator.

During alligator mating season, female alligators will build a nest of soil, vegetation or debris and lay up 46 eggs in late June or early July, according to the FWC. Hatching occurs from mid-August through early September. 

Florida's 67 counties are home to more than 1.3 million alligators of every size. They are found in freshwater lakes, ponds, swamps and slow-moving rivers.


Florida Nuisance Alligator Hotline

The state of Florida has a Florida Nuisance Alligator Hotline where people can report nuisance alligators – and have a licensed trapper come out to remove the reptile. The Florida Nuisance Alligator Hotline number is 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).

According to FWC's website, "an alligator is deemed a nuisance if it is at least 4 feet in length and the caller believes it poses a threat to people, pets or property." This also includes alligators that end up in places you do not want them to be, such as in swimming pools, garages or on the front porch.

However, alligators that are smaller than four feet are not considered to be a nuisance alligator because they are "not large enough to be dangerous to people or pets," the FWC said.

Alligators are not relocated once captured. Instead, they are euthanized. The FWC said removing nuisance alligators does not have a significant impact on the overall gator population in Florida, and alligators would have to be relocated to remote areas where other alligators may live and have already determined their social structures.

FOX 35 in Orlando contributed to this report.