Although you may not think of alligators as necessarily the most communicative and expressive creatures in the animal kingdom, these big genus Alligator reptiles do indeed have their own distinct ways of relaying relevant messages. From noticeable hissing sounds to inaudible infrasound, alligators certainly know how to get their points across to others.
Some species of alligators are capable of communicating even before birth -- think the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), to be specific. These reptiles are the most "talkative" crocodilian species, and begin producing high "complaining" noises while living within the eggs.
Bellowing is a common sound in the alligator world, and is prevalent in both Chinese and American alligators -- the only types of alligators that still exist. These husky, guttural and very intense sounds are often used as a means of expressing a specific locale. If an alligator wants another to find him, he may just opt to bellow. Alligators "roar" by blowing air out from the lungs. The sound is so vociferous that it can be detected from distances as remote as 165 yards, according to the University of Michigan's Animal Diversity Web.
When alligators are in the midst of trying to attract mates for breeding, they sometimes produce purring sounds that are reminiscent of coughs. These sounds communicate, quite clearly, the intention to reproduce, and are referred to as "chumpfs." Male alligators often give off infrasonic vibrating sounds while on the water -- all in attempts to draw in female attention. These sounds, within infrasound, often are lower than 20 hertz, notes the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. Female alligators, on the other hand, often press their bodies against the males to indicate availability.
If an alligator is feeling frightened or defensive, he may communicate by making a hissing sound. If you're ever in the vicinity of an alligator and hear him hissing, leave the area immediately. This reptile thinks that you're getting too close, and wants you far away from him.
Alligators, like many other kinds of animals, can definitely be territorial when necessary. These reptiles often mark their territories by engaging in "head slaps" while within the water. Alligators elevate their heads and then forcefully press them against the surface of the water. By doing this, an alligator marks his turf.
If an alligator is feeling stressed out, anxious, shocked or frightened in general, he may producing a yelping sound, which is a brief crying or whining sound.
- Savannah River Ecology Laboratory: American Alligator
- Zoo Atlanta: American Alligator
- Animal Diversity Web: Alligator mississippiensis
- Alligator Farm: Courtship Behavior of American Alligators
- Animal Diversity Web: Alligator sinensis
- Savannah River Ecology Laboratory: Alligator Safety
- Texas Parks and Wildlife: If You See An Alligator
- SeaWorld Animal Bytes: American Alligator
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images