Hatching Success of American Alligator Eggs When Subjected to Simulated Collection Trauma

Hatching success of crocodilian eggs can be influenced by the age of the embryo at time of collection. We conducted an experiment to determine the amount of care necessary during egg collection to optimize embryo survival when alligators eggs at different stages of development were subjected to simulated field conditions of choppy vs. smooth water and cushioned vs. non-cushioned support. We also compared hatching success of rolled vs. non-rolled eggs at different stages of development. We found that transporting eggs in choppy water reduced hatch rates in the absence of cushioning (P < 0.001) and cushioning improved the likelihood of eggs hatching (P = 0.071). The hatch rate probability of eggs with 7-8 days of embryonic development was less than those of 12-14 or 17-18 days (P < 0.010). Rolling did not significantly affect the probability of eggs hatching (P > 0.89) for the ages 13-24 days. This study indicated that precautionary measures can reduce egg mortality. We suggest that a simple cushioning system be used to minimize egg mortality when transporting eggs in choppy water conditions or over rough terrain.

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