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Chinese Alligator Necropsy Protocol

    SSP Necropsy Protocol:

    Chinese Alligator


    A thorough postmortem examination should be performed on any Chinese Alligator that die at institutions keeping this species in captive settings.  Please note the following recommendations for sample collection in addition to institution practices recommended by the SSP veterinary advisor. This protocol allows for standardization of necropsy procedures and tissue sampling that may lead to diagnosis of clinical conditions, metabolic trends or other diseases that are essential to the database establishment for this species to assure future healthcare and captive management.  Please take digital photos of the necropsy and send copies to Dr. Rush on DVD or CD for records purposes. There is no charge for any of the following work.

    Tissue collection      

    Collect a small section of all major tissues (heart, lung (a minimum of two sites from mid-body and caudal areas), splenopancreas, thyroid, thymus, esophagus, stomach, multiple sections of intestine, kidney, adrenal gland, gonads, oviduct, muscle, bone marrow, and brain) in 10% buffered formalin.  Additional sections of lung, liver, splenopancreas, kidney, skin (including an osteodermal section) and any tissue with obvious gross lesions should be frozen at -30 to -70 degrees C (if possible) for future viral isolation, mycobacterial, bacterial, or fungal culture.  Freeze multiple sections of skin, especially is lesions are noted.  At these sites, please take full thickness sections.  In addition, take several normal areas of skin in full thickness and place them in a separate container for comparison.  For smaller individuals, open the coelomic cavity, collect and freeze samples of larger organs that can be reasonably collected without disruption of tissues for histopathology (e.g. skin (especially if lesions are present), lung and liver), and place the entire remaining carcass in 10% buffered formalin. The Thompson-Bishop Alabama State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab will perform the histopathologic examination. Please send all necropsy samples and a copy of the gross necropsy report to Dr. John Roberts at the address provided below.  In addition, please email the SSP veterinary pathologist, Dr. John Roberts and SSP veterinary advisor, Dr. E. Marie Rush prior to sample submission, so that proper preparations can be made to monitor for and accept tissues.

    Other samples

    1)  Include a description of the gross necropsy findings, body weight in grams at the time of death, and full clinical history.

    2)  Anaerobic, aerobic and fungal cultures of various lesions should be taken when indicated. Please send a copy of the results to Dr. E. Marie Rush at


    Ship frozen specimens overnight only on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.  Notify Dr. Roberts of impending arrivals at the time of shipment.  Use dry ice to maintain package temperature if possible.  Separate formalin tissues from frozen tissues within the package or ship them separately.  Please label all specimens with your institution, animal identification and date of collection.


         If tissues are also processed at an additional lab, please send copies of the final gross and histopathological reports to Dr. Rush for data consolidation in the data bank for this species.       

Please ship all samples to: Dr. John Roberts


State Diagnostic Laboratory

890 Simms Rd. P.O. Box 2209

Auburn, AL 36831-2209

(334) 844-4987 Fax (334) 844-7224


581705 White Oak Road
Yulee, FL 32097 USA

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