OCEAN ISLE BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA — A video released Monday shed light on the unique way alligators adapt to icy winter conditions.
The Charlotte Observer reports that in the video, alligators in Shallotte River Swamp Park in North Carolina were seemingly frozen inside a pond, with only their snouts visible above the ice.
Alligators are ectothermic, which means they don't generate their own body heat, and rely on the environment to regulate their internal temperature. Most gators live in temperate climates. But occasionally, a bomb cyclone brings in an icy winter and the scaly creatures have to deal.
When temperatures reach freezing, gators are known to stick their snouts out of the water before the surface ices over.
This allows them to continue breathing as they lower their body temperatures and metabolism, falling into a hibernating state in a process known as brumation.
Once it becomes warm and the water thaws, the cold-blooded animals will slowly begin thermoregulating their body temperatures.
Days after the frozen gator video made its rounds online, an update was posted showing the gators now out and about, though apparently still grumpy from their winter nap.