Crocodilians are able to consume larger meals than most vertebrates. The varied diet of many crocodilians makes them excellent models to study the effects of meal size and temperature on gastric retention time. Consumption of turtles by American alligators, Alligator mississippiensis, is expected to be overemphasized because of prolonged stomach retention of epidermal scutes. We conducted experiments to identify exogenous factors that control gastric retention time of turtle scutes. Stomach contents of nine juvenile alligators, fed various percentages of their body mass, were used to compare retention intervals of turtle scutes. As meal size increased, the stomach retention interval increased. The retention interval of scutes was not affected by ambient temperatures over the range of 30–35 C.
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Vol. 148 • No. 1