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How do cold-blooded gators deal with extreme cold temps?
The answer is pretty fascinating.
These gators were found frozen in ice, just their noses above the surface, in the Shallotte River Swamp Park in North Carolina last year.
Intuition would tell you that these gators are dead…but they’re very much alive.
The gators can sense the water freezing, and instinctively put their noses above the surface so that they can breathe, even while immobilized.
It’s called ‘brumation,’ or dormancy. Cold-blooded animals rely on external sources of warmth, so when it’s this cold, they go into brumation: all internal processes slow to a crawl in order to exert as little energy as possible. Their metabolism slows to next-to-nothing, and they exert only enough energy to float near the surface.
Pretty cool, right?
I mean, gators are a huge nuisance and all, but the fact that they’re equipped to deal with this kind of cold is fascinating.
In fact, the American alligator is the most cold-averse of all the crocodilian species, and are found farther north than any other.
Nature is remarkable.