Hibernating Alligators Have to Poke Through Carolina Ice to Breathe

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The Shallotte River Swamp Park shared videos on Facebook of their alligators with their noses stuck high in the air through cracks in the ice, and they appeared not to be moving. It can be seen from online videos and pictures that the ice hardened around the gators' snouts with their bodies suspended in the water.

According to experts, alligators instinctively know when the water is about to freeze, and they respond by sticking their nose above the surface while the water freezes around.

When the temperature drops lower than 40 degrees, as it has across the country in recent days, alligators go in to a hibernation-like state called brumation. They have learned to adapt to frigid conditions by allowing themselves to be frozen in place and poking their snouts above the surface. "This is where a reptile's metabolism slows down dramatically and will go into a lethargic state".

"(It's) just an absolute incredible survival technique and these guys were built tough millions of years ago and they remain tough today", Howard said. "Often during this time, an alligator will stay at the bottom of a body of water".

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"Obviously, that is not optimal, being frozen like that", he said.

"It is very, very abnormal for southeastern North Carolina", Howard said of the ice and freezing temps. "Their bodies like the warmth".

"It made sense immediately why they were doing it".

Have you ever wondered how alligators survive in the winter?