A video has surfaced online showing how alligators conserve energy in freezing temperatures and this video has caught the attention of social media users.
The footage shows the reptile poking its nose through the ice of a frozen pond to avoid suffocation. The gator was spotted “frozen” inside the giant pond-shaped ice cubes at Swamp Park, a tourist attraction and alligator sanctuary near Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina, US, the BBC reported.
To survive extremely cold temperatures, some reptiles undergo brumation, which is a state of inactivity equivalent to hibernation in mammals.
In the video, only the alligator’s snouts and front teeth are seen above the surface of the ice, allowing the reptile to breathe while it waits for the water to thaw. The Swamp Park, which cares for rescued alligators, posted a clip of the alligator on Facebook
Since being shared, the clip has surfaced on other social media platforms as well. On Facebook, it has accumulated more than 2.4 million views. In the comments section, while some users called the video cool, others called it amazing.
“Just to have the instincts to know that is AMAZING,” wrote one user. “That’s amazing I thought first it is dead,” commented another. That’s really cool! I learned something new today! Thanks!” expressed a third.
Alligators can’t regulate their temperature, so they survive the icy conditions by going into a state of brumation – which is similar to how mammals, warm-blooded animals, hibernate. During hibernation, an animal’s heart rate and breathing slow down and their body temperature decreases to help them use less energy. Similarly, in the case of alligators, when ice crystals start to form, their metabolism slows down and their tired bodies gradually become suspended in the frozen water with their eyes closed.
They “instinctively tilt their nose up” so it sticks out of the water to stop them from suffocating, a Swamp Park spokesperson said, as per the BBC. The water around them solidifies and suspends them until temperatures are more comfortable, and the water temperatures increase, they explained.
However, unlike in hibernation, gators and reptiles don’t fall into a deep sleep during brumation. They still have periods of activity allowing them to drink, the spokesperson said. During brumation, it’s thought an alligator’s heart can slow down to as few as three beats per minute, as per the outlet.