Alligators are large carnivorous reptiles of the family Alligatoridae. They belong to the crocodilia order and are under the phylum Chordata. They are of class Reptilia. Their ears, eyes and nostrils are found on top of their long head. They can’t survive in salt water, instead they thrive in slow moving waters and weigh over 1,000 pounds.
When investigating reproductive behavior in alligators, one question that often pops up is – do alligators have balls?
Yes, alligators have balls (or penis). Their penis is usually hidden inside their body until it’s “deployed”. They also have testicles that are housed internally.
What Type Of Animals Are Alligators?
Alligators are large reptiles. Reptiles are cold-blooded (ectothermic) vertebrates with dry scaly bodies that protect them against injury and prevent moisture loss. They belong to the class Reptilia under phylum chordata. Reptiles fertilize their eggs internally.
There are four main orders of reptiles. These include squamata, testudines, sphenodontia and crocodilia. Alligators belong to the order crocodilia. They have U-shaped snouts and can weigh over 1,000 pounds.
Alligators are also tetrapods; they possess four short legs. Each fore limbs have five toes while the hind limbs have four toes. They also have powerful tails that are used in defense and swimming.
Juvenile alligators feed on amphibians, invertebrates, insects and small fish while adult alligators feed on small mammals, snakes, birds, fish and turtles. American alligators have a life span of 30 to 50 years.
Why Do Alligators Have Balls?
Also known as testicles, alligator balls are responsible for producing sperm and testosterone, which are required for production and development of male traits. However, it’s worth noting that, unlike birds, alligators do not reproduce by transferring sperm through direct cloacal contact. Instead, they reproduce by copulation, which will not be possible without a penis.
The next question that may come to mind is, “do alligators have penises?”
Well, yes, alligators have penis. It’s used for reproduction. Like the balls, the penis is carried internally and are permanently erect. So, the alligator doesn’t need to inflate them when it’s aroused.
One of the reasons why the penis is always stiff and erect is the the dense layers of collagen present inside.
Function of testicles in alligators
Testicles are part of the male reproductive system. As earlier indicated, they are the organ that produce sperm and testosterone. The reproductive system of an alligator will be incomplete without the testicles and the male alligator will be unable to reproduce without the testicles.
Are Alligators Always Erect?
Yes, the penis of an alligator is always erect. They do not change shape or size when aroused. You might wonder, why male alligators are always erect?
The male alligator penis is basically filled with dense layers of collagen which is a stiff protein. This tough, fibrous tissue is the reason why the alligator is always erect. As a result, the alligator is always prepared for copulation. They essentially live all their lives with an erection!
How To Tell A Male Alligator From A Female
What makes a male alligator different from a female alligator? How do you determine the gender of an alligator?
- Through their size: Male alligators are generally bigger than female alligators. They grow over 11 feet long while female alligators grow to just a little over 8 feet long.
- Temperature: Temperature is another method of distinction. When a female alligator lays eggs, the easy way to determine their gender is through their temperature. During incubation period, in the second and third week, if the temperature of the egg is 93 °F or above, the alligator will be a male but if the temperature is 86 °F, the alligator will grow to be a female.
- By looking at the genitals: You can also tell a male alligator from a female alligator through their genitals. If you roll over an alligator, get a pair of small, blunt forceps and place a few drops of oil onto it. Insert the forceps gently into the vent of the alligator and spread them a bit. If a penis emerges, it is a male but if a clitoris pops out, it is a female.
Why Do Alligators Have Two Penises?
Unlike squamates, alligators do not have two penises. They have just one because they only require one for reproduction. On the other hand, the squamates have two penises which is what they need to mate. By squamates, we mean, lizards and snakes. They are the largest order of reptiles.
The two penises of the squamates are called hemipenes; the presence of hemipenes in the squamates is what distinguishes them from other reptiles.
You can read more on squamates here to know more about how they reproduce.
How Do Alligators Mate?
Male alligators grunt loudly in search of a mate. When they find or attract a potential mate, they begin the process of courtship and mating. They rub and press each other’s bodies and snouts to show strength and prove that they are better suitors. This courtship ritual may last for hours while the main copulation may last less than 30 seconds. Mating usually take place in the water.
After mating, the female alligator builds her nest then uses her hind legs to make a bowl-shaped depression at the top of the nest. A female alligator can lay anywhere from 20 to 50 eggs.
Alligators are not monogamous. A male alligator can mate with more than one female alligator and the same goes for a female alligator.
Other Related Questions
Do alligators have hemipenes?
Hemipenes is not a characteristic of alligators. It is used to describe a pair of two penises of male squamates (snakes and lizards). They come in different shapes depending on the specie. Some have spines and others have hooks. The hemipenes help the male squamates to copulate properly with compatible female squamates. Alligators copulate with only one penis. They don’t have two penises.
Do alligators have boners?
Unlike humans, alligators don’t have boners. No matter how excited or aroused an alligator gets, its penis will not inflate. It is stiff, permanently erect and ready to strike!
Can an alligator mate with a crocodile?
Alligators cannot mate with crocodiles. The reason is that they are different genetically. Alligators belong to the genus Alligator while Crocodiles belong to the genus Crocodylus. Only animals in the same genus can interbreed.
Do alligators have two genitalia?
Alligators do not have two genitalia. The presence of two genitals is a characteristic unique to snakes and lizards (squamates). The presence of two genitals in squamates enables them to properly mates with a compatible mate. A male squamate with a spike hemipenis will mate with a female squamate with a spike cloaca and a male squamate with a hook penis will mate with a female squamate with a hook cloaca.
How is gender determined in alligators?
The gender of an alligator is determined by its temperature. When a female alligator gives birth, she covers the eggs in dirt. During the second to third week of incubation, you can determine the gender of the alligators using the temperature of the eggs.
If the temperature of the egg is 86 °F or above, the egg is going to mature into a female alligator. If the temperature of the egg is 93 °F, then the egg is going to grow into a male alligator.