Advertisement
  1. News

Alligators use bizarre, and creepy, ancient ritual to survive North Carolina's arctic blast

A North Carolina swamp park has posted a video explaining how alligators survive in a frozen pond, and it's both creepy and bizarre. The cold-blooded monsters essentially allow themselves to be frozen in place, with their noses just above the surface, according to a video posted on Facebook by Shallotte River Swamp Park in Ocean Isle Beach. That's about 200 miles east of Charlotte. [Photo from video]
Published Jan. 9, 2018

A North Carolina swamp park has posted a video explaining how alligators survive in a frozen pond, and it's both creepy and bizarre.

The cold-blooded monsters essentially allow themselves to be frozen in place, with their noses just above the surface, according to a video posted on Facebook by Shallotte River Swamp Park in Ocean Isle Beach. That's about 200 miles east of Charlotte.

What passersby see is noses and teeth – really big teeth – sticking out of the ice. The "alligators on ice" video received 45,000 views in its first 21 hours on Facebook.

"Just hanging out in the water," said the narrator of the video. "Pretty amazing. … Look at those teeth. This is the time of year when they are just hanging out, waiting for it to get warm."

The alligators seem to instinctively know when the water is about to freeze, experts say. They respond by sticking their nose above the surface at just the right moment, allowing the water to freeze around it.

The alligators then enter "a state of brumation, like hibernating." Alligators can regulate their body temperature in all sorts of weather, park officials said, and can essentially remain frozen in place until the ice melts.

The video clip has awed commenters on social media, prompting people to pepper Shallotte River Swamp Park with concerns about whether the alligators are dead and questions about what happens if someone steps on a frozen alligator by accident.

"Just shows you how smart they are, and how amazing it is to see them do this exact survival technique, no matter how horrific it looks to us humans," posted Linda McMullan on Facebook.

As for what happens if someone steps on a frozen alligator, experts said it's not likely the animal will react. At least not while the water is still frozen around them.

"No, they will not respond," the park said in a Facebook post. "They are trying to conserve energy to maintain body temperature."

After almost being eradicated in the early 20th century, alligators have made a comeback in North Carolina. Most are found in the southeastern corner of the state.

A Carolina Coastal Review study suggested the farthest west they might appear would be Richmond County, though none have been recorded living naturally past eastern Scotland County. That's four counties away from Charlotte. Alligators prefer the coastal creeks, ponds, wetlands and rivers that provide vast, interconnected habitats, experts said.

However, two alligators were run over by vehicles near Charlotte this past summer, and both died. Experts said they believed the alligators may have been pets released by their former owners.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    No injuries were reported, according to Pinellas deputies. A tornado may also have passed over Interstate 4 in Polk County.
  2. The Florida Department of Transportation is installing lights on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge as part of a $15 million project. During tests this weekend, engineers will illuminate the bridge in a pink hue to commemorate breast cancer awareness month. Courtesy of Florida Department of Transportation
    The Florida Department of Transportation is lighting up the span this weekend to commemorate breast cancer awareness month.
  3. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    The 63-year-old crossing guard was hospitalized, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
  4. Amber Perera looks out at the courtroom audience during her sentencing hearing at the Hillsborough County Courthouse. Perera caused a fatal crash on the Selmon Expressway in Tampa in August, 10, 2017 that killed Rita and Luiz Felipak and their 8-year-old daughter Giorgia Felipak. SCOTT KEELER  |  Times
    Amber Perera is responsible for the 2017 crash that killed a family of three. She hopes to avoid a life sentence. The judge is still deciding.
  5. Tampa Bay Lighting host a watch party on the beach at the Tradewinds resort on St. Pete Beach in February. LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times
    TradeWinds is the biggest resort in Pinellas County.
  6. A view of the downtown St. Petersburg skyline and waterfront from over Tampa Bay.
    The news that the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation wants to change its name to include “Tampa Bay” has been met with resistance.
  7. 6 hours ago• Hillsborough
    Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    University police say a woman fell to her death Friday afternoon from near the top of the 8-story parking facility.
  8. Alec J. Roarks, 27, has resigned his position at Connerton Elementary School.
  9. A driver lost control and plowed into the garage of a townhouse in the 21400 block of Clubside Loop in Land O Lakes. The homeowner was in the garage at the time but was not injured. The driver suffered minor injuries. But the home's occupants had to leave because of the damage. Pasco County Fire Rescue
    The car drove through a garage wall. The homeowner was inside the garage at the time but was not injured.
  10. The Whole Coffee Company makes Dunkin’-branded Coffee Thins as well as Tim Hortons Double Double bars and its own Whole Coffee Company-branded nudge coffee bars. (Photo courtesy The Whole Coffee Company) The Whole Coffee Company
    The Whole Coffee Company, which is based in Miami, was previously known as Tierra Nueva Fine Cocoa. ProspEquity Partners of Tampa owns a majority stake in Whole Coffee.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement