Here's How Alligators Survive Freezing North Carolina Waters

Video shows alligators surviving frigid, freezing North Carolina water by keeping their nostrils in the air

The Shallotte River Swamp Park in Ocean Isle Beach posted a video to Facebook and YouTube showing one of the park's rescue alligators with only its nose poking up through the ice on the surface of the water. "It is not abnormal for them [the alligators] to do this because they know they have to breathe".

When the water or air temperature is too low they go into a state of "brumation", which means their metabolism slows down so much that the gators go into a lethargic state. "To be honest with you, every single time we're just floored at just how wonderful of a creature they are".

Despite this ingenious survival instinct, Howard said gators can't stay in icy water indefinitely.

The reptiles will then drop down to the bottom of a body of water, where they can hold their breath for up to 24 hours. Once it becomes warm and the ice melts, the creatures will thermoregulate their body temperatures to their regular state.

Here's How Alligators Survive Freezing North Carolina Waters
Here's How Alligators Survive Freezing North Carolina Waters

The video, which received 104,000 views as of Monday night, led many viewers to asks what happens if someone steps on a frozen alligator.

The alligators at Shallotte River Swamp Park are out of danger. Experts said it's not likely the animal will react.

"It is very, very abnormal for southeastern North Carolina", Howard said of the ice and freezing temps. At least not while the water is still frozen around them.

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