It’s nesting season for alligators in Georgia.
Female alligators can lay up to 40 eggs in nests that are typically 6 to 7 feet in diameter. The nests are often built in remote grassy areas, near the edge of a river bank or near a marsh.
Greg Waters, a wildlife biologist for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, explained how female alligators craft their nests.
“They take and make a messy mound, basically of all the vegetation in that immediate area," he said. "Then, they lay the egg on the top of the nest, to keep them up out of the water and they cover them up with more debris.”
Alligators are on the move during nesting season, but can be difficult to track due to their instinctual desire to stay out of sight.
They are typically submerged under water or seeking shade under thick, lily pad coverings.
The Ogeechee river stretches 294 miles through Georgia and is home to many of the state’s alligators. DNR biologists often catch alligators up to 7 feet in length along the river and tag them with a plastic ear tag you often see on cows.
“Later, when someone catches that alligator again out on the water, they can report it to us and we can see how the alligator has moved and grown through the course of the years,” Waters said.
Currently, the state has an estimated population of 200,000 to 225,000 alligators.