As the temperatures in North Carolina fell under 0, the alligators of Shallotte River Swamp Park froze and found themselves idle with their muzzle out of the ice.
At least 18 alligators in Swall River Park on the Shallotte River in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, have entered an inert state called “Brumation”, and observed in cold-blooded animals in periods of low temperature. They were found "frozen" with their noses above the ice, as temperatures dropped well below zero.
Brumation is a "semi-inactivating" condition seen in cold-blooded animals, which allows them to slow down their metabolism and run out of food and water. For alligators, the condition can last from four to five months and can be caused by temperatures below 21 degrees Celsius. They stay in the water and hold their nostrils above it so they can breathe. The process is similar to hibernation but differs in the metabolic processes involved. In general, hibernation refers only to mammals.
According to Mr. Howard, director of the park this behavior “It is a survival mechanism that alligators do in case they need to breathe. As soon as the temperatures start to drop they stick their noses out of the water, and if it freezes, it will freeze around their muzzle and allow them to breathe. "When the ice melts, the alligators return free and start their lives again."
The Shallotte River Swamp Park is a privately licensed and certified North Carolina Reptile Rescue Shelter.