Umbilical scarring is the presence of excess scar tissue deposited between abdominal dermal layers at the site of yolk sac absorption in hatchling American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). The presence of this dermal condition plays a key evaluatory role in the overall quality and subsequent value for various commercial leather products. Despite the prevalent nature of this condition, currently the industry has no standardized protocols for its quantification. The objectives of this study were to examine the relationship between hatchling weight and age and incidence of umbilical scarring and to develop a quantifiable and reproducible technique to measure this dermal condition in hatchling American alligators. Thirty eggs from each of nine clutches were incubated in two separate incubators at different facilities and hatchling umbilical scarring was measured at 2 and 10 days of age using digital calipers. Umbilical area was calculated by multiplying umbilical length times umbilical width. There was a significant effect of both age and clutch on umbilical area (overall decline of 64%) by 10 days post-hatch. However, only five of the nine clutches utilized expressed a noticeable decline in the size of this dermal condition (range 67-74%). We had hypothesized that larger hatchlings would have larger umbilical areas and a slower rate of improvement in this condition during the first few days post-hatch. The differences in umbilical area and percent decline with age across clutches, however, were not associated with differences in initial hatchling weights. Within clutches and time periods, hatchling weight had no significant effect on the size and/or rate of decline of this condition. ?? 2004 Published by Elsevier B.V.
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Umbilical scarring in hatchling American alligators