Frequently Asked Questions About Alligators Part 3

two alligators sitting on rock

Below is our 3rd installment of frequently asked questions about alligators. Check out part 1 and part 2 by following the links below and look for more fun facts and answered questions to follow.

Part 1

Part 2

How does a ranch-raised alligator adjust to being released into the wild? Is growth rate affected?

Studies have shown that a released alligator’s growth rate is affected by captive rearing. Ranch-raised alligators released into the wild continue to grow faster than their wild relatives even years after their release.

How many eye lids do alligators have?

Alligators have three eyelids per eye. Like us, they have one that closes down and one that closes up.  They also have a 3rd eyelid that closes from the front of the eye to the back. This eyelid is clear and is closed whenever underwater, while fighting, or while eating prey.

Why has the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries chosen to adopt the radical concept of harvesting all the eggs from the nest of the Louisiana Alligator?

With only 6-8 out of every hundred eggs surviving in the wild without human intervention, a nest of 25 eggs will likely have 2 or fewer survivors growing to 4 feet. The Louisiana Rancher has a hatch rate of 80 out of 100 eggs and a greater than 99 out of 100 survival rate once hatched. As such, releasing healthy alligators from the ranches results in a greater population increase than leaving the job to momma gator. Further studies have shown that momma alligator continues to lay her eggs year after year even if she never sees any babies born. This would imply that she does not concern herself with her hatching success.

How can the Louisiana Rancher harvest so many eggs from the marshes without harming the population?

The rancher raises the alligator to an average size of 4 feet and then returns 10% of these 4-footers back to the marshes. Studies show that this return rate is twice the number that would survive to a size of 4 feet if the alligator eggs were simply left alone.

Is the American Alligator currently an Endangered Species?

No.

Was the American Alligator ever an Endangered Species?

Prior to the mid 1960’s, the American Alligator was not protected in any way and was one of the most highly valued exotic skins (leather) in the world. Harvesting of wild alligators throughout their range was very profitable and generally conducted without regard to consequences to the population. The result was dramatic population declines throughout their range of habitat.

In the early 1960’s, studies showed the entire population of the American Alligator to be roughly 300,000, half of which lived in Louisiana. The Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries was the guiding influence that resulted in the American Alligator being put into the Endangered Species Program in 1965.

The American Alligator, 300,000 strong and declining, was not technically an Endangered Species. However, it was put into the program because the American Alligator resembles other Crocodilian that were at that time endangered. Why was this done? Largely because it was so difficult to tell different Crocodilians apart. After all, who do you know can tell the difference between an alligator, crocodile, or caiman? And more importantly, who can tell the difference between their skins? So, to protect the endangered species, all Crocodilian species were and still are protected.  In summary, the American Alligator is not and was never an Endangered Species.

To learn more about the American Alligator, feel free to visit our ranch where you can get up close with the gators. Contact us today to schedule a tour!

Frequently Asked Questions About Alligators Part 2

alligator

In our last blog post, we discussed some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about alligators. But one blog post isn’t enough to cover all the topics and questions we get daily from our customers. That’s why we’ve returned with a second installment of our alligator FAQ!

How can the age and viability of the incubating egg be determined?

After the first day of incubation, the embryo floats to the top of the egg and pushes the thin membrane inside of the egg up against the shell. This creates a white spot on the otherwise opaque shell. As the alligator grows, the white spot broadens around the egg and becomes a ¾” band after 7 days. This band widens each day and covers the whole egg after 39 days, making the whole egg bright white. If at any time between the 1st and 39th day the baby dies, the band will stop growing. If the baby dies after the 39th day, the egg will become ugly in just a few days.

What is the optimum incubation temperature and why?

Temperatures averaging 89 degrees produce an alligator that grows faster throughout its whole life. This is because the alligator food conversion rate (the ability to convert food to body weight) is improved.

Why is the hatch rate at Louisiana Ranches better than the hatch rate in the wild?

Controlled environment: temperature, no predation, no tidal hazards, no momma walking on nest, etc.

Why is the survival rate on the Louisiana Ranch better than the survival rate in the wild?

Controlled environment: better temperature, easy access to food, clean water, roof over head eliminates predation, etc.

What is the size of an alligator hatchling when it is born?

9”. Almost never 8” or 10”.

How fast do alligators grow in the wild?

Alligators grow about 1 foot per year during the first four years of their life and slower thereafter.

How fast do alligators grow in captivity?

Alligators commonly grow to 4 feet in the first year on ranches. They grow slower thereafter but will grow faster than their wild relatives throughout their whole life demonstrating their impeccable care.

Why is there such a substantial difference?

There are three main reasons.

  1. Eggs incubated in a controlled temperature of 89 degrees produce an alligator that converts food to body weight more efficiently.
  2. Ranch-raised alligators do not hibernate because they are kept warm year-round.
  3. Food is more readily available to a ranch raised alligator.

Keep an eye out for future frequently asked alligator questions! If you’d like to visit our ranch, contact us today to schedule a tour!

Frequently Asked Questions About Alligators Part 1

alligator swimming in water

Here at Insta-Gator Ranch & Hatchery, our main mission is to spread awareness about the American Alligator and the Louisiana Alligator Conservation Program. These amazing creatures have much to offer the world, and we’re always looking to share our knowledge with our customers.

When people visit us or our alligators travel to visit them, they understandably have many questions about how alligators live. That’s why we’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about alligators.

How does the female alligator build her nest?

A female alligator will use her teeth to rip the grass from the marsh in the immediate area around the nest, piling the grass up into a mound about 18-24 inches tall by 4-6 feet wide.

How does the nest assist the incubation process?

The rotting grass produces heat to keep the eggs warm at night. The grass also produces shade to keep the eggs cool during the day. As a result, the eggs are always kept at a stable temperature.

When do alligators lay their eggs?

Alligators lay their eggs over a three-week period, typically starting around June 10 and ending around the first few days of July.

How many eggs are laid in a typical alligator nest? Why do you think momma alligator lays so many or so few?

The female alligator lays an average of 30-40 eggs in her nest. They lay so many eggs likely because 9 out of 10 eggs or baby alligators are eaten by other animals before they have a chance to grow big enough to protect themselves.

Of all the eggs laid in the marsh, how many alligators will survive to a size where they can protect themselves from being eaten by other animals?

Studies have shown that alligators begin to successfully protect themselves when they’re about 4 feet. Only 6-8% of eggs laid in the wild will survive long enough to grow this large.

How is sex determined during the incubation process?

Incubation temperature controls sex. Temperatures averaging 92 degrees Fahrenheit will produce nearly 100% males, while temperatures average 86 degrees Fahrenheit will produce nearly 100% females. Some ranchers will control temperatures to get their desired sex, but here at Insta-Gator Ranch, we let Mother Nature and the alligators decide.

When is sex determined?

Sex is determined by incubation temperature between the 10th and 24th day of incubation.

How long is the incubation process and when do the eggs hatch?

After 63 days of incubation.  The eggs typically hatch between August 10 and September 6 of each year.

Keep an eye out for future frequently asked alligator questions! If you’d like to visit our ranch, contact us today to schedule a tour!

Common Misconceptions About Alligators

Louisiana and the rest of the Southern United States is home to many alligators. These wild animals are an important part of our ecosystem, and that is one of the many reasons why they are protected under federal and state law. However, many Americans hold misconceptions about these great creatures, believing they’re aggressive, poor climbers, and more. Here we uncover the truth about gators and bust some of the most common misconceptions.

Myth #1: Alligators are aggressiveCommon Misconceptions About Alligators

Perhaps the most popular misconception (and the most harmful) is that alligators are aggressive towards humans. In reality, you have more to fear from snakes or spiders than you do from gators. Alligators are typically scared of humans, and when they see one, they’re more likely to walk, run or swim away than attack. Gators, like most wild animals, will only attack if they’re provoked. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep your distance if you see a gator in the wild.

Myth #2: Alligators have poor eyesight

Another misconception is that alligators have bad eyesight due to their head shape and eye positioning. However, this is far from the truth. Alligators’ eyes are positioned on the sides of their heads, but they can see straight forward, thus giving them a wider view than humans. They can even recess their eye into their head, preventing another alligator from penetrating the eye with their tooth while fighting. They are also nocturnal animals, meaning they have much better night vision than most other animals.

Myth #3: Alligators are poor climbers

An alligator can’t climb around like a monkey, but that doesn’t mean they’re poor climbers. Alligators are strong and muscular, making them agile climbers. They can climb up a chain link fence using their claws, especially if such an enclosure’s corners are at a 90-degree angle. This is why many alligator farmers and ranchers use 45-degree corners in their enclosures.

Myth #4: Alligators are the same as crocodiles

Crocodiles and alligators are often confused for one another. Granted, they do belong to the same family—Crocodilia. Nevertheless, crocodiles and alligators are different members of that family. There are 23 species of crocodilian, of those 23 species, 13 of them are crocodiles. While crocodiles can be bigger and stronger than alligators, only two, the Nile Crocodile and the Saltwater Crocodile, are as big or bigger than the alligator. That means 11 of the 13 are smaller than alligators.  Many people also believe that crocodiles are stronger than alligators, when the facts show that size is everything and when equal in weight they seem to be very similar in strength.

Myth #5: Alligators will always eat their young

A mama alligator will not eat her own babies, but Daddy, who has nothing to do with the rearing of his babies, doesn’t recognize them as babies and will eat them. Mama will care for her young for up to two years, but when she is ready to have a new clutch of babies, she will chase her yearlings off and if they elect to not listen to their Mom and leave, she will eat them.

To learn more about Louisiana alligators, contact Insta-Gator Ranch & Hatchery today!

How Does the Louisiana Alligator Ranching Industry Practice Sustainability?

Releasing Alligators Back into The WildBelieve it or not, the Louisiana Alligator Program of Protection is arguably the best conservation program for any animal on earth. In the late 1950s, the wild alligator population in Louisiana had declined to unacceptably low numbers of about 150,000. In response to the rapid decline, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LWL&F) began scientific studies to understand the American Alligator and its plight to survive.

By the 1970s, after nearly 20 years of aggressive study of the American Alligator, the LWL&F had formulated a plan to dramatically increase this protected species’ population. However, one large problem they faced was no funding or financial support on the horizon.

The Re-Opening of The Wild Alligator Harvesting Program

The solution was the re-opening in 1978 of the wild alligator harvesting program, which had been closed since 1963 to protect the species. This re-opening was not seen as a necessity to control the wild alligator population but as a funding source to implement this amazing program of protection.

Strangely, it was determined that this species could only be protected through hunting and reduction of the population. An income source was created by charging for licenses to hunt and additional fees to support this protection program. The successful accumulation of funds continued, and in the mid 80’s, the LWL&F began the alligator ranching program of protection, and the “Alligator Ranching Industry” was born.

What Is the Alligator Ranching Program?

baby alligator hatching from eggThis program allows Ranchers to harvest eggs out of the marsh, with the understanding that 17% of those alligators hatched must be returned to the marsh once they reach an average size of 4 feet. The program’s continued success has so dramatically increased the population, that through the years, the alligator return rate has been reduced substantially.

The program has become recognized worldwide as the “Sustainable Use” Story and possibly the most successful protection program for any animal in the world. The basic philosophy, ranchers, harvest all the alligator eggs that can be found in the marshes of Louisiana. They incubate, hatch, and raise those alligators to an average size of four feet. Then they return more 4 footers to the marshes of Louisiana than Mother Nature has allowed to survive prior to man’s involvement.

Astonishing Facts

  • Alligators lay 30-40 eggs per nest.
  • Survival Rate from egg to 4-foot alligator:
  • 6%-8% in Mother Nature
  • 85% with Man’s Intervention
  • Improved hatch on the Ranch is due to:
  • No predation of eggs by raccoons, snakes, birds, etc.
  • No high tides due to strong southerly winds or hurricanes.
  • The loving care and financial incentive of the Alligator Rancher.
  • The improved survival rate  (nearly 100%) of the baby alligator once born on the Ranch is due to:
  • No predation of hatchlings and yearlings by snakes, birds, fish, alligators, mammals, etc.
  • The loving care and financial incentive of the Rancher
  • Ranchers return legal requirement:
  • In 1988, with a wild population of 500,000, 17% of the hatch was returned thru 1999.
  • In 2000, with a population of 1.5 million, 14% of the hatch was returned thru 2008.
  • In 2009, with a population of 2.5 million, 12% of the hatch was returned thru 2017.
  • In 2018, with a population of 3.5 million, 10% of the hatch was returned thru the present.
  • Since the inception of this amazing Program, Ranchers have returned over one (1) million alligators.
  • The survivability of the alligator returned to the wild from ranches has proven to be much higher than ever believed possible.

If you’re looking for a way to support this amazing program of protection, consider purchasing some of our alligator leather products available at our shop. To learn more about our gators and services, please contact us today with any questions you may have!

Caring for Your Alligator Leather

Alligator leather is one of the most stunning and durable of the luxurious exotic leathers. With the right care, alligator leather should last you many years of enjoyment. After purchasing a high-end piece of exotic alligator leather, it’s important to research how to take care of it properly.

Without the proper care, the flexibility, durability, and overall appearance of the alligator leather can diminish drastically over time.

To help preserve the quality of your alligator leather, here are a few of our care tips:Caring for Your Alligator Leather

Store the Leather in a Cool, Dry Place

When caring for your alligator leather products, they should always be stored in a cool, dry place. You should never bend your alligator leather when storing it. If you have alligator leather belts, hang them up from the buckle when storing!

What to Do When Your Alligator Leather is Wet

If your small alligator leather products become wet, the first thing you’re going to want to do is gently wipe off any excess water with a soft dry absorbent cloth. Once the water is wiped away, let the leather dry naturally and slowly without the assistance of direct sunlight or auxiliary heat. For the best results, you should make sure that there is clean, dry air passing over and under the leather. Usually, a small fan will do the trick!

After everything is dried, apply the leather conditioner to all exposed leather. Then repeat in another day or two, and your alligator leather should be as good as new.

Cleaning Your Alligator Leather

Never use household chemicals, alcohol, or other solvents to clean your alligator leather. Alligator leather is sensitive and using these types of cleaning material can destroy the finish.

Test Your Cleaning Products Before Applying

Just as you would with any of your other household products, always test your products before applying. Take a hidden surface of your leather and apply the conditioner following the manufacturer’s instructions. Pay close attention to your leather color because the wrong conditioner can cause the leather finishes to become less glossy or darken the color.

Purchasing Luxurious Alligator Leather

At Insta-Gator Ranch and Hatchery, it’s our goal for you to use and enjoy our products for many years, and our detailed cleaning instructions should help you do that!

Shop our online collection of genuine alligator leather products and contact us today if you have any questions.