How Do Alligators Communicate?

alligators-communicate Credit: John Wilhelm is a photoholic/Moment/Getty Images

Alligators communicate with one another by emitting deep, loud roaring sounds that travel as far as 165 yards. When alligators are courting, they release purring coughs, referred to as chumpfs. Baby alligators begin communicating with their mothers while they are still inside their eggs by emitting shrill whining noises to announce their arrival when they are preparing to hatch.

During mating season, male alligators interact with females by raising their heads out of the water as an act of chivalry, as well as emitting musky aromas from glands located on their lower jaws. Females attract males by making soft, quiet growls. Another form of non-verbal communication between alligators is head-slapping, a behavior in which the male opens his mouth and slaps his jaw together, creating a popping sound in the water. Males engage in head-slapping to send warnings to potential predators and mark their territories.

Alligators also emit low-frequency sounds by performing water dances. During a water dance, the male wiggles its body to create vibrations that cannot be heard by humans. The vibrations create bubbles and ripples in the water that are sensed by other alligators. Water-dancing often accompanies head-slapping.

Alligators of both sexes assume elevated postures to establish dominance and integrate groups. When an alligator's posture is elevated, the body is completely straight and the majority of its length is on top of the water.