A viral video of alligators frozen in an icy pond at North Carolina’s Shallotte River Swamp Park has been the talk of social media, with lots of people wondering whether coldblooded crocodilians can survive in snowy cold temperatures.
George Howard, the playground’s general manager, told HuffPost that while the frozen alligators in the video appear to be casualties of Old Man Winter, they’re very much alive also. Alligators, he clarified, don’t like subfreezing temperatures any over warmblooded people, and if faced with such extremes they go into survival mode.
“They could sense temperature changes and will stick their noses from their water to breathe,” Howard explained. “It just so happened nearby North Carolina lately had a freeze like none other, so the ice literally froze directly around their snouts. ”
With their bodies on ice hockey, alligators go to a state of dormancy called torpor in which their metabolism slows considerably. But unlike mammals that hibernate, gators don’t even go into a profound sleep.
“In that condition, they are still living, still moving, but very lethargic,” Howard said, describing torpor.
If the alligators didn’t keep their snouts above the water surface, theyrsquo;d perish in roughly 24 hours ― the largest possible amount of time that they could stay underwater without coming up for air.
Despite this ingenious survival instinct, Howard said gators could’t even stay in freezing water indefinitely.
“Obviously, that is not optimal, being frozen like that,” he explained. “I could’t even imagine it being very great for them when it had been much over a week in cold water. That’s why you don’t even see native alligators north of North Carolina. Their bodies such as the warmth. ”
But fear not, animal lovers. The alligators at Shallotte River Swamp Park are from danger. Temperatures at the park have heated up lately, freeing the gators in the freezing pond.
“It’s 65 degrees here now and also the waters have melted,” Howard said Tuesday. “They’re outside and doing their happy dance. ”
Now you understand. See ya later, alligator!