Spring courtship involves loud bellowing and slapping of the head against the water surface. Reproductive females deposit clutches of usually about 20-60 eggs in May, June, or July (peak in late June-early July in the Everglades, north-central Florida, and Georgia). Eggs hatch in about 9 weeks. Female stays near the nest and may protect it during incubation, and she assists the emergence of the young by opening the nest mound; sometimes she carries the young in her mouth to water. Hatchlings may stay together in the vicinity of the nest and mother for 1-3 years (Behler and King 1979, USFWS 1980). Sexually mature in about 6-7 years.
In most areas, about 25-30% of the adult females nest in a particular year (Rootes and Chabreck 1993); a nesting rate of up to 68% was recorded in one area in southwestern Louisiana (see Taylor et al. 1991).
Reproductive success in the Everglades was constrained primarily by egg mortality caused by flooding (Kushlan and Jacobsen 1990). In north-central Florida, 31% of nests with complete clutches were destroyed by mammalian predators (Goodwin and Marion 1978).
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