During mating season, male alligators flirt with females and let rival gator dudes know there’s someone in the territory by “booming,” i.e., making a deep, guttural call while partially submerged in such a way that their scaly backs vibrate and produce a dancing water courtship display. (I don’t judge — I’ve seen far more inexplicable courtship displays by humans.)
Anyhoo, the booming typically ramps up when rainy season starts in June, but if you’re in the right place, you can hear gators booming all summer long. Here’s a 30-second vid I took with my phone from my porch a while ago. You won’t see the gators, but if you turn up the sound, you’ll hear distant gators calling and then a response that sounds like it’s coming from under my dock.
Ever heard gators booming? Turn the sound up and listen: pic.twitter.com/PVmPHDDDcN
— Betty Cracker 🐊 (@bettycrackerfl) August 30, 2021
The alarmingly close gator you can hear at about the 20-second mark is probably Dexter, a little gator who has been hanging out on our dock when the river is high this summer, but it sure sounds big and scary, which is probably the point.
I have a healthy respect for gators, which is why I keep my dogs away from the water at all times and do not swim except in springs where I can see clearly. That said, I don’t live in fear of them. You’re hundreds or maybe even thousands of times more likely to die in a car collision with a deer than be attacked by a gator.
And yet, there’s something primordial about that booming that can freeze the blood, even if you’re in your own house that is safely elevated above the surface of the water. I think of it as nature’s way of saying, “You ain’t all that, human.” It’s an important and helpful reminder.