Their survival skills put Bear Grylls to shame.
Gators are survivors. They’ve been around over 66 million years and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Their freaky survival skills were put on show last week after the Shallotte River Swamp Park in North Carolina shared a video depicting strange objects floating above freezing water. The video shows several alligator snouts sticking out of frozen ponds, teeth visible, after a deep cold front plagued most of the United States’ eastern coast.
Like warmblooded humans, alligators dislike freezing temperatures (who knew humans and gators had something in common?). When faced with cold weather extremes, gators enter survival mode and essentially let themselves freeze into place.
Alligators then enter a state of hibernation, referred to as brumation. Their metabolism and breathing slow down as they enter this semi-vegetative state. Aided by heightened senses, they prepare for cold snaps such as those felt by the East Coast well before they occur. With this foresight, they stick their snouts out of the water so they can continue breathing as the surface freezes.
When it begins to cool down but isn’t quite as icy, alligators will disappear, sinking to the bottom of the swamp for most of the day or burrowing into the mud. While you may not see them, they’re definitely there hiding and waiting for warmer days.
This skill isn’t just unique to alligators— many other reptiles also sink into a lower metabolic state when it gets too cold to remain active. Turtles also enter a hibernation state as the temperature drops. They are able to breathe via cloacal respiration, moving their body slowly across the water to filter oxygen to the most vascular part of their body which is of course, their butts.
Check out the video below for more info (and freaky footage) of gators surviving the cold.