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How Do Alligator Farms Get Their Eggs?

a reptile on a body of water

Have you ever wondered how alligator farms get their eggs? In an effort to protect Louisiana’s alligators, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Department works closely with farmers. Alligator farms actually collect eggs from nests they find in our swamps. Here is how it works:

Farms Always Give Back

The state of Louisiana began an alligator ranching program in 1986, according to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. They did this in order to provide alligators for alligator farms. The program lets licensed alligator farmers collect alligator eggs on private lands and incubate and hatch those eggs under artificial conditions. Collectors mark nests and collect the eggs. They have to be very careful in doing so because alligator embryos attach to the tops of eggs, embryos will die if eggs are turned over. Back at the farm, the eggs are put into incubators and approximately 65 days later the alligator babies (hatchlings) are taken out. Alligators Farmers raise alligators until they reach approximately 3′ to 5′ in length. This is when the farmers have release the alligators back into nature. A female alligator lays 20-60 eggs (average 35 eggs). In nature, fewer than 65 percent will live to one year due to predators and weather conditions. There are two advantages to releasing juvenile farm raised alligators.  First, alligators raised on farms have better chances of survival (alligators released are 3′-5′ and have better chances of survival than hatchlings 8″-12″) and second, alligators are produced on farms every year (if predators destroy nests or flooding occurs, no eggs would hatch). The alligators that are not released will be sold by the farmer. La. Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries personnel actually travel to the farms and measure, mark and identify the sex of every alligator before it is released.

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