An American alligator sticks its snout the end of an icy pond at the Shallotte flow Swamp Park in north Carolina.(Image credit: George Howard, The Swamp Park, s Isle beach NC)
As temperature dipped along the U.S. East Coast, alligators at a sanctuary park in north Carolina figured out a cute method to make it through in your icy homes: lock poked your noses out of the water as it started to freeze over, your scaly "snorkels" ending up being their just conduit because that oxygen.

You are watching: How long can alligators stay frozen


Several American alligators to be spotted this week through their noses breaching the icy water"s surface at The Swamp Park in s Isle Beach, in southerly North Carolina, which residences rescued alligators in a fenced-off body of water near the Shallotte River.

"The water they space in does have tendency to freeze on consecutive sub-freezing nights. This go not occur often," claimed George Howard, the park"s basic manager. "They do this together a survival technique — a coping mechanism to enable them to breath in the event the water freezes over."

Howard spotted the exact same nose-poking actions last January in ~ the park during the so-called bomb cyclone.


"This time that year, they room in a procedure called "brumation," kind of prefer hibernation except they are completely aware," Howard told Live Science. "They reduced their metabolism to make it through the cold. Lock don"t eat for a couple of months, till the temps obtain up to 70 and above."


During brumation, an alligator"s metabolism slows down, allowing the reptile to go without food and just "chill" for four to five months.

They can"t let your bodies obtain too cold, however, or they will die. American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis), a member of the bespeak Crocodilia, are cold-blooded animals, for this reason they basically take on the temperature of your surroundings. That"s why lock bask in the sun, making use of the warm to obtain toasty, and also why they can"t live too far north in the U.S.

When air temperatures drop below around 70 F, the reptiles sometimes dig the end muddy underwater dens to store warm. Lock can additionally apparently remain submerged in water with just their snouts sticking above the surface for hours to a couple of days, claimed Greg Skupien, of the north Carolina Museum of organic Sciences, who cited research released in the 1980s.


In a study published in 1982 in The American Midland Naturalist, researcher from the Savannah flow Ecology Laboratory uncovered that an alligator in one iced-over pond in south Carolina retained a breathing hole in the 0.6-inch-thick (1.5 centimeters) ice cream for numerous days, despite the pet later died because its body gained too cold, dropping come 39 F (4 C).

Scientists reported on a similar behavior in 1983 in the newspaper of Herpetology, describing a ""submerged breathing" posture in i m sorry the snout damaged the water (i.e., ice) surface, when the remainder of the head and the human body angled ago down into the den."

Though Skupien, curator that the Naturalist center at the museum, has never experienced the so-called icing response, the told Live science that the behavior is "as weird as it gets because that alligators."

He added, "There are other reptiles and amphibians that exhibit some pretty cool overwintering strategies, such together frogs that produce cryoprotectants (i.e., antifreeze) and turtles that can basically breathe from their butts (i.e., cloacal respiration)."

Originally released on Live Science.

See more: How Much Are French Fries At Mcdonald’S, World Famous Fries®: Calories & Nutrition


*

Jeanna is the editor-in-chief that Live Science. Previously, she to be an assistant editor at Scholastic"s Science human being magazine. Jeanna has actually an English degree from Salisbury University, a master"s degree in biogeochemistry and also environmental sciences from the university of Maryland, and also a graduate scientific research journalism level from brand-new York University. She has functioned as a biologist in Florida, whereby she monitored wetlands and also did field surveys for intimidated species. She also received an ocean sciences journalism fellowship indigenous Woods hole Oceanographic Institution.