Why Do Alligators Blow Bubbles? (Vet Tech Explains)

Why Do Alligators Blow Bubbles

If you live in an area with alligators, you probably already know what the telltale signs of an alligator are. Often you’ll notice deep scratches in the ground near the water and strange patterns or disturbances on the surface of the water. Sometimes you might even catch an alligator just basking in the sun.

Another odd thinking you might keep an eye out for our bubbles on the top of a body of water. This is because alligators are known to blow bubbles.

But, why do alligators blow bubbles?

It’s speculated that alligators mainly blow bubbles as part of their courtship ritual. Bubbles are a way for them to communicate interest and attract a mate. In addition to being useful for courting, bubbles are also a side effect of alligators spending time underwater and expelling air.

In this article, we’ll talk about why we think alligators blow bubbles. Will also discuss some of the other interesting courtship behavior that alligators display during mating season. Lastly, we’ll talk about any other animals that use bubbles to communicate, and what they might mean.

Why Do Alligators Blow Bubbles?

There are two main explanations for why alligators blow bubbles. You can usually tell why they’re blowing the bubbles based on their behavior at the time of the bubble blowing.

If the alligator is chasing another alligator around, staying very close to them, and blowing bubbles, they might be flirting. However, if you just notice a lot of bubbles on the surface of the water, the alligator is probably just staying submerged in a dive and expelling air slowly.

You can see a really good example of some alligators blowing bubbles from underwater in the video below.

It’s Part Of Their Mating Ritual

One of the main reasons why alligators blow bubbles is as a courtship behavior. For the same reasons that penguins present pebbles to their mates, humans, take other humans out for a drink, and birds put on fancy displays, alligators, choose to blow bubbles among many other things.

Bubbles are meant to communicate to other alligators that they’re interested in mating. Not only are the bubbles a visual attraction, but they may also make noises underwater that other alligators can hear from far away.

Alligator courtship behaviors begin in April and extend all the way through June. If you notice a lot of bubbles in the water during these months, make sure to steer clear of these bodies of water.

They’re Just Breathing Out Underwater

The other main reason that alligators blow bubbles is simply to exist underwater.

Did you know that alligators typically spend about 10 to 20 minutes underwater every dive? Plus, when needed, alligators can stay underwater for up to two hours with one breath. During this time, alligators will slowly expel air out of their lungs. Obviously, this escaped air makes small bubble patterns on the top of the water.

This is one great way that you can tell that there are alligators in the water around you. You can take that as a clear sign that you shouldn’t be jumping into this body of water.

What Other Courtship Behaviors Do Alligators Have?

So is blowing bubbles the only thing that alligators do when courting each other?

There are actually plenty of other observed courtship behaviors that alligators present during mating season. Alligators are very physical animals. A lot of their introductory and courtship behaviors have to do with physical touch.

Often times alligators will swim parallel to each other or will swim perpendicular and block each other’s paths. Alligators also make plenty of noises like low guttural sounds, and loud, strong bellows.

Usually, bellows are meant to impress mates, as much as they are meant to keep other competition far away. It’s also not uncommon for male alligators to fight and even eat their competition during mating season.

After alligators are introduced, they’ll often rub their necks and heads together as they prepare to mate.

Do Any Other Animals Blow Bubbles To Communicate?

Surprisingly, there are other aquatic animals that use bubbles to communicate. Whales and dolphins are the most notable animals that blow bubbles to other members of their species.

For example, belugas seem to blow bubbles and have four distinct patterns. Studies determined that certain patterns like bubble rings or streams of bubbles indicate a playful mood for a beluga whale.

It makes sense that other aquatic animals use bubbles to communicate. As we mentioned, above bubbles are both a visual and audible way to communicate in the water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hopefully, we’ve answered all of your burning questions about why alligators blow bubbles. Now, we’ll go over a couple of common confusion points on the topic.

Do Crocodiles Blow Bubbles?

Just like alligators, crocodiles blow bubbles, and they blow bubbles for many of the same reasons that alligators do.

Crocodiles use bubble blowing as part of communication during their courtship rituals and also blow bubbles when they are resting underwater. The bubbles you might see coming from a crocodile could be a lot larger than the bubbles you would see from an alligator.

Here is a great video, showing a saltwater crocodile blowing bubbles from down below.

Do Bubbles Mean There Is An Alligator Underwater?

Usually, when bubbles appear on the surface of a body of water suddenly which means there’s an animal below.

That animal could be an alligator. However, bubbles could indicate the presence of any other animal that lives in the water. Even fish blow bubbles, but they won’t be as noticeable as bubbles from an alligator or crocodile. If you’re not sure, it’s safe to say that seeing bubbles on the surface of the water is a good reason not to jump in.

Final Thoughts

Alligators blow bubbles for two main reasons. Alligators blow bubbles as a way to communicate interest to another alligator they’re courting. Alligators also blow bubbles on the way to expel oxygen while they’re resting underwater, or on a long dive.

It’s not uncommon for animals in bodies of water to blow bubbles as part of their daily routines, and as a way to communicate to others and their species.

If there’s one lesson you can take away from this article, just remember that bubbles on the surface of the water mean that something is below you and you should hesitate before you dive in.