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NC's famously frozen alligators are thawed out

The Charlotte Observer logo The Charlotte Observer 1/11/2018 By Mark Price, The Charlotte Observer
This is what alligators do when their watery homes freeze in the winter. © Shallotte River Swamp Park/Charlotte Observer/TNS This is what alligators do when their watery homes freeze in the winter.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - North Carolina's famous "alligators on ice" have thawed out of their frozen pond, now that temperatures are above freezing.

A video posted earlier this week of the alligators frozen in place – with only their snouts above the ice – got hundreds of thousands of views across the world, and raised questions about how the alligators survive.

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 devils 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, about 200 miles east of Charlotte.

Well, they definitely survived. To prove it, Shallottee River Swamp Park posted a follow-up to its original video that shows the alligators sunbathing in brisk 62-degree temperatures.

Shallotte Park General Manager George Howard illustrated their status by actually climbing into the enclosure with the dozen alligators. And he narrates the video while holding an alligator's mouth shut with one hand.

"These alligators (were) obviously in the ice the other day," Howard says, while trying to hold the alligator down. "We just want to make sure he's good to go. He's fighting me, so I know he's doing good. You hear him hissing? Wow. He's not real happy with me."

Howard says the alligators are still hibernating (a state called brumation), which can make them irritable: "So the last thing I want to do is mess with them too much."

a close up of a rock: This is what alligators do when their watery homes freeze in the winter. © Shallotte River Swamp Park/Charlotte Observer/TNS This is what alligators do when their watery homes freeze in the winter.

The park's dozen alligators, which include a baby, all survived, he says.

North Carolina is the northern most range of the American alligator, and the video posted by the park showed a rare glimpse of how they have adapted to a region where winter can mean arctic temperatures and frozen waterways.

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