Alligators in North Carolina poke their noses through ice to survive freezing temperatures

PHOTO: An alligator pictured at The Swamp Park in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina peeking his nose through the ice.PlayThe Swamp Park
WATCH Alligators survive winter chill beneath the ice

Alligators living at the Shallotte River Swamp Park in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, have adapted to the state's unusual weather by poking their noses through the ice to survive.

"It's a survival mechanism," said George Howard, the general manager of the park. "They'll go wherever it is warmest."

The alligators went into the water last week during the "bomb cyclone" that hit the East coast. The water in the swamp was warmer than the air, explained Howard.

PHOTO: One of the rescued alligators peeking his nose through the ice at Shallotte River Swamp Park in North Carolina in an undated photo.The Swamp Park
One of the rescued alligators peeking his nose through the ice at Shallotte River Swamp Park in North Carolina in an undated photo.

The animals are experiencing brumation, a process cold-blooded animals go through that lowers their metabolism so they can survive cold climates, similar to warm-blooded mammals' hibernation.

"It is very, very abnormal for southeastern North Carolina," Howard said of the ice and freezing temps. "It is not abnormal for the [the alligators] to do this because they know they have to breathe."

PHOTO: Alligators at Shallotte River Swamp Park can be seen poking their noses through a sheet of ice to breathe.Reuters
Alligators at Shallotte River Swamp Park can be seen poking their noses through a sheet of ice to breathe.

A layer of ice had formed on top of the swamp last Friday and stayed solid throughout the weekend.

The ice hardened around the gators' snouts with their bodies suspended in the water, said Howard.

PHOTO: Alligators at Shallotte River Swamp Park can be seen poking their noses through a sheet of ice to breathe.Reuters
Alligators at Shallotte River Swamp Park can be seen poking their noses through a sheet of ice to breathe.

"They didn't care. They're just doing their thing," said Howard. "Alligators have been around for hundreds of years. They're survival machines."

The American alligator can survive water temperatures of negative 40 degrees and can hold their breath for one to 24 hours, the par said in a blog post.

As of this morning, the alligators have thawed and are waiting for the afternoon sun.

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