A protective mother alligator watches over her young as they learn to hunt and fend for themselves. At just 8 inches long, they’re defenseless and could be an easy meal for a passing bird or hungry male alligator.
- [Narrator] Tucked away amongst the saw grass, alligator nests have been incubating eggs for two months now.
They're built around the roots of small trees, which anchor them as water levels rise.
A female guards each one, patiently waiting for her young to emerge.
And by August, the first babies have hatched.
(reptilian bellows) At just a week old, they're perfectly camouflaged.
Bright yellow stripes make them invisible amongst the dried grasses the nest is built around.
At this age, they spend their days close together in groups called pods under the gaze of their watchful mother.
(birds chirping) At just eight inches long, they're defenseless, an easy meal for a passing bird or hungry male alligator.
(soft dramatic music) But when darkness falls, these hatchlings show a different side.
(mysterious music) With fewer predators around, the youngsters take on a new confidence.
They break away from their pods and set out alone.
And, while they might look cute, even at this tender age, they already have the instinct to hunt.
Their mother will protect them but she won't feed them, so they have to get the hang of it fast.
At this age, they hunt almost constantly through the night, pouncing on their prey of tiny insects and fish, with not quite expert precision just yet.
They'll perfect these skills over the next year, until they're big enough to go it alone.