What Do Alligators Sound Like? [Can You Hear Them Coming?]

Their dark, armored forms glide silently through the water. Then, menacingly, they approach with their unblinking, yellowy-brown eyes perusing your kayak. Although alligators are not likely to attack (no guarantees, though), the ominous presence of these prehistoric creatures can be frightening. But what do alligators sound like? Will you hear them coming when they’re nearby?

Alligators are very vocal creatures. They make several different sounds, including bellowing, hissing, grunting, and yelping. The sounds they make differ according to the situation. Some are mating calls. They will use other sounds to warn off intruders who make them feel cornered or threatened. 

Like all animals, alligators communicate through their calls. So even though humans are not on the standard alligator menu, it’s best to learn to identify their sounds if you’re in their territory. Especially the sounds that tell you to go away! 

Alligator attacks are not unheard of, but they usually happen when the animal feels threatened or when people come too close to their young.

What Do Alligators Sound Like? Can You Hear Them Coming?

Most of the time, you can hear an alligator coming. However, they also have a habit of slinking silently through the water. Having said that, they are not out to get you when you’re kayaking or walking on the river banks. 

Wild animals can be unpredictable, although you can be sure they will always protect their territory and families. They are not tame, even if they are not our natural enemies. People would do well to remember that we must play by their rules in their territory.

Alligators are prevalent in Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Louisiana has the biggest alligator population in the United States. So, if you’re in these areas, particularly near bodies of water, you can expect to encounter them. 

The American alligator can make specific sounds that declare its territory, signal distress, warn off competitors, or announce that it’s looking for a mate. 

The Sounds Alligators Make

Alligators communicate with each other with their different sounds.

Alligators Bellow

Some people think it sounds like a growl or a roar. Others say it sounds like a toilet flushing! Alligators of both sexes bellow loudly when searching for a mate or staking their claim on their territory. They draw air into their lungs and blow it out in deep-toned growls. 

Bellowing can also be alligators’ form of playing Marco Polo! He will bellow when he wants another alligator to find him. They also communicate their size to other gators by bellowing. 

During mating season, males bellow using infrasound. Infrasound or low-status sound refers to sound waves with a frequency lower than humans can hear (20 Hz). 

They lift their heads and arch their tails when they use this call. As the alligator bellows, the infrasonic waves can cause the water above and next to him to “sprinkle.” This is commonly called the “water dance.”

During the mating season, you could encounter a group of chorusing alligators. Observers of these choruses have said that they “felt” the chorus more than they heard it because of the intense infrasonic bellows of the male alligators. The females start the bellowing, and the males perpetuate it.

Alligators Bellow In B Flat

It may sound unlikely, but alligators bellow in the key of B Flat, specifically one octave below Middle C. Some scientists at the American Museum of Natural History discovered this weird fact accidentally. 

During World War II, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra visited the museum. While rehearsing, somebody played a note that agitated one of their resident alligators named Oscar. 

As he bellowed, the scientist immediately decided to experiment with the orchestra members playing different notes. They discovered that B Flat was the key that got the gators going!

Alligators Hiss

Many reptiles hiss and alligators are no exception. For example, when a gator is scared or defensive, you may hear this hissing sound. This is a warning to leave the area immediately because that is his warning sign. He believes you’re way too close and wants you to go away. Or else!

The Head Slap

Alligators are territorial creatures, and when they feel the need to mark their territories, they will lift their heads and forcefully slap them down on the water’s surface. They’re relaying the message: “you’re not welcome here; keep moving!”

Alligators Yelp

When gators feel stressed or anxious, they may make a yelping sound. It sounds like a brief whine or cry. 

Baby Alligators Whine

Unbelievably, baby alligators start whining when they’re still inside their eggs! The mother alligator covers her eggs with vegetation to keep them warm. Then, when the babies are about to hatch, they start making yelping or whining sounds. The mother alligator quickly retrieves them and takes them to the water in her mouth.

Will You Hear An Alligator Coming?

Generally, most animals don’t interfere with people if the people leave them alone. But alligators are also wild and unpredictable and may attack occasionally. 

If you’re in alligator territory, kayaking, for instance, it’s wise to learn the noises that these reptiles make and keep your ears tuned for them. 

Although alligators drift noiselessly through the water, their other noises should alert you to their presence. Of course, their presence may not indicate any sinister intentions. Still, it is always best to move out of their space if possible.

What’s On An Alligator Menu?

Their diets include fish, birds, snakes, turtles, amphibians, and some mammals. Some alligators even eat fruit.

People are not on their menu. Gators rarely attack humans and practically never eat them. When there is a fatal attack, the body is usually found intact. Still, it is never a good idea to interfere with an alligator or deliberately provoke one.

What To Do When Close To An Alligator

It is not typically a sign of aggression if you’re kayaking and see a gator slip under the water as he catches sight of you. It usually means he is heading for safety until the “danger” has passed. The best thing to do is steadily and quickly move out of his territory.

If you’re on land and are being chased by an alligator, experts say you should run (with all your might) in a straight line. 

In the unlikely event that an alligator attacks you, you should poke at his eyes, aim punches, and kick at his head. You can also jam things in the back of his throat. Then, he will try to reposition it, and you will have a chance of escaping.

Final Word

Alligators make a variety of noises, so if you’re in their presence, study their tones. It’s in your best interests to keep your ears open for any potential dangers when you’re in the wild by tuning them to all sounds around you.

If alligators are slinking around in dark waters, you may not hear them coming, but it’s improbable that they are out to get you. But, of course, if you provoke them or get up their noses (snouts), it could be a case of “see you later, alligator!”

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