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Female American Alligators: Tough (but Tender!) Mothers



Female American Alligators: Tough (but Tender!) Mothers

A Short Reader

Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.95

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    demeanor, gators, offspring, vegetation, shores, laying, defend, hopefully, such, necessary, mothers, become, lend, early, dangerous, free
     content words:    Female American


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Female American Alligators: Tough (but Tender!) Mothers
By Erin Horner
  

1     What is your mom like? Does she lend you a hand when you need help? Does she protect you from scary creatures in the night? If you said yes, then your mom might be an alligator!
 
2     Female American alligators may be tough, but they are tender mothers. Early each summer, these gators build nests for their eggs near the shores of the lakes, ponds, or swamps where they live. After laying their eggs, the mothers cover them with vegetation. This protects the eggs and keeps them warm. Many reptiles leave an area after they lay their eggs. Not these tough but tender mothers. American alligator moms guard their nests for two months while they wait for their young to hatch. In late August or September, the baby gators begin to squeal. These high pitched noises let their mother know that they are ready to hatch. Once she hears her young, the gator uncovers the nest. She watches her babies use their egg teeth to break through their shells. If necessary, a mother gator may even roll the eggs around in her mouth to help them crack. Once they are free, the mother gently gathers her babies in her mouth and carries them to the water. You may think that a gator mom's job ends there, but it doesn't. Next she must protect her young from many creatures that would love an alligator appetizer or gator goodnight snack. The first two years of a young gator's life are very dangerous. Females guard and protect their offspring as best they can until .....
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