An Olfactometric Study of the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis): Responses to Food and Scent Gland Secretions
Brinkmeier, William G.
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Juvenile American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis ) were tested for responses to airborne chemicals from various meats, components of beef, and to glandular secretions from the same species in order to investigate the chemoreceptive ability of the species and possible chemical communication. An olfactometer was used to observe the gular pump rates of the subjects to the various stimuli. Gular pumps are associated with the act of "sniffing" and are unrelated to respiration, therefore, they provide a quantitative index of interest in chemical cues. Subjects exhibited a greater frequency of gular pumping to the meat chemicals than to distilled water in all of the experiments. Subjects also exhibited slight increases in gular pump rates to the glandular secretions than to plain chloroform. These experiments suggest that olfaction in alligators may play an important role in the detection of airborne chemicals from meats and from the glandular secretions of other conspecifics.