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Alligators use bizarre – and creepy – ancient ritual to survive NC’s arctic blast

How NC alligators behave when their swamp is iced over

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 surfa
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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 surfa

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 animals 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. That ice formed last week when a massive “bomb cyclone” storm blew up the coastline, bringing record lows. The family-owned outdoor adventure park’s “alligators on ice” video has received tens of thousands of views on Facebook.

An orange alligator was spotted in Hanahan, S.C. Josh Zalabak at the South Carolina Aquarium says his orange color is not natural, and it might be caused by a variety of factors. In the meanwhile, neighbors have dubbed the him the "Trump-A-Gator."

“Just hanging out in the water,” says narrator George Howard in the video, showing close ups of the snouts sticking through the ice. “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, says Howard, who is general manager of the park. They respond by sticking their nose above the surface at just the right moment, allowing the water to freeze around them.

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 65-acre park and sanctuary has a dozen alligators, all of them “rescues” that were previously kept in captivity. This includes two alligators that were used as “guard animals” by N.C. drug dealers. (The two alligators were being fed dog food, says Howard.)

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.

The park sent out an updated video later in the week, showing the alligators survived but were cranky.

Beach-goers spotted an alligator walk onto the shoreline of Myrtle Beach from the Atlantic Ocean near 43rd Avenue North Monday evening. Witnesses said the three-to-four-foot long reptile came ashore, soaked up some sun then turned and high-stepped back into the surf as they waited for police to arrive. Officers and bystanders watched the alligator swim along the shoreline, but 40 minutes later the reptile had yet to return ashore from his evening swim.

“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.

It didn't ring the doorbell or pose as a Candy-Gram, but this alligator made a pretty strong run at getting into this Moncks Corner, SC, house on May 2, 2016. Resident Gary Rogers recorded the sight on a neighbor's porch in this short-but-sweet video as he was walking his dog in Foxbank Plantation. A Facebook post about the video had been shared more than 1,300 times by the following afternoon.

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