Outsmarting their prey
American alligators exhibit brainy behaviors traditionally not associated with reptiles: extended parental care, learning, recollection and play. The biggest discovery: They use tools to hunt. During spring, when marsh birds are searching for nesting materials, alligators deliberately collect twigs and sticks on top of their snouts, then sit and wait. Lure plus camouflage equals a better chance of a meal of egret or heron.
Voice of the gator
Alligators are among the most vocal reptiles, with a wide range of communications. Hatchlings’ squeaks to mom while still in the nest are just a warmup. Like many reptiles, gators issue a warning hiss, but with the volume and force of air escaping a truck tire. To attract a mate, they make deep purring sounds, and males can give of flow-frequency vibrations in the water. To define a territory or attract another alligator, adults utter deep, far-reaching bellows not unlike a lion’s roar.