Alligators nest in wetland areas, Alligators breed in the Spring (April to May). A month after the noisy mating rituals and coupling, the female lays up to 50 eggs in a large (three feet tall and six feet wide) nest she constructed of mud, leaves and twigs on dry ground. Alligators do not sit on their eggs; that would crush the eggs. The rotting vegetation in the nest warms the eggs. The temperature of the nest determines the sex of the hatchlings. If the eggs are incubated over 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius), the embryo develops as a male; temperatures below 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) result in female embryos, between these temperatures, both sexes are produced. The female guards the nest from predators.
The eggs hatch in 2 months, producing hatchlings about 6 inches long (15 cm). The group of babies (called a pod) are protected by the female for about a year. Alligators are among the most nurturing of the reptiles.