Date of Award

Spring 1990

Document Type



Life & Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Jean Smith

Second Advisor

John Addis

Third Advisor

Henry Burgess


These experiments demonstrated that the American Alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) detected chemicals from food on land and under water. American alligators were offered raw meat or animal carcasses on land and under water where only chemoreception could be used to discriminate between experimental and control materials. Juvenile alligators, tested in indoor tanks, opened cheesecloth packets containing meat more often than control packets when these materials were placed under water and on platforms above the water surface. Adult alligators, tested in outdoor semi-naturalistic enclosures, removed cheesecloth-wrapped meat presented under water, and both meat and raccoon (Procyon lotor) carcasses placed under perforated baskets on land, more than control materials. Juvenile alligators, in aquaria partially filled with water, exhibited more lateral head movements and mouth-opening in response to a water extract of meat than to plain water.