Leucism (white skin, dark eyes) is a rare color disorder occurring in a range of invertebrates and vertebrates, and as a result, relatively few reports exist of leucistic individuals in the wild. In March 2014, we found 6 leucistic Alligator mississippiensis (American Alligator) hatchlings in coastal South Carolina. All individuals were basking under cool, cloudy conditions within ∼15 m of the den, appeared moderately emaciated, and were somewhat lethargic upon capture. The animals were removed from the field and treated for malnutrition under veterinary supervision. Three Alligators died within 6 days of collection, and the remaining 3 individuals were transferred to different institutions for long-term care and display. These animals also eventually died after surviving in captivity for ∼4.5–45 months. Leucistic Alligators are known to suffer from a variety of health problems, and the mortalities and associated causes of death in the animals we describe here were consistent with previous reports of other leucistic Alligators. The incidence of leucism among wild crocodilians is very low, and disease, increased susceptibility to predation, and collection by humans further exacerbate its rarity.
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Vol. 19 • No. 4