Courtship takes place in January and February, when males attract females to mate. Courting can last as long as two months. During mating season American crocodiles display territoriality by males engaging each other in competition for access to females. Males roar loudly, raising their heads and opening their mouths, displaying their impressive teeth as part of the mechanism to attract mates. Females respond to male roars with roars of their own.
Mating System: polygynous
American crocodiles breed seasonally between April and May. Female American crocodiles lay 30 to 60 eggs in a hole or a mount that take approximately 9 to 10 weeks to hatch. Eggs are kept warm through the generation of heat from rotting vegetation placed on the eggs. Females guard nests throughout that period. Sexual maturity in American crocodiles occurs at a length of 1.8 to 2.4 meters, or between 8 and 10 years old.
Breeding interval: American crocodiles breed once yearly.
Breeding season: Egg-laying occurs during April or May.
Range number of offspring: 30 to 60.
Range gestation period: 2 to 3 months.
Range time to independence: 2 to 14 days.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 8 to 10 years.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 8 to 10 years.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous
Females build a nest prior to mating. The nest is constructed in an open area, usually above the high water mark. Females dig nests up to 1.5 m deep and up to 1.8 m in diameter. Once the eggs are laid, usually between 30 and 60, the nest is covered with dirt to incubate and they are not uncovered until they hatch. Although the eggs are placed close together, they are separated from each other to prevent them from breaking. When hatching approaches, the female increases the frequency of her visits to the nest site. While the eggs are hatching, the mother displays her protective nature through aggression. The female will rest her head above the nest, listening for noise from the young that cue her to uncover the nest in preparation for their hatching. Once uncovered, the mother aids the hatchlings in climbing out of the eggs, and later escorts the young to the water when they are ready. Once the young are taken from the hatching site they disperse quickly and are subsequently on their own.
Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Protecting: Female)