This alligator "popsicle" is making sure it deserve to breathe in the frozen lake.(Image credit: David Arbor, courtesy the U.S. Forest Service)
Oklahomans come face-to-face v popsicle-like alligators — reptiles who snouts to be sticking directly out that the icy water — once the cold snap struggle the American southern this month.

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But why were these alligators "snorkeling" in together cold weather? Why weren"t castle sunning top top the banks or hiding in your burrows?

And who knew Oklahoma also had alligators? The news of the snorkeling alligators sparked a controversy on on facebook over even if it is alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) to be a aboriginal or introduced species to the state. According to an 1866 description of an alligator composed in one Oklahoman man"s diary, it shows up that they room native, although various other alligators have been introduced to wetlands in the state"s southeastern corner since then, stated Jena Donnell, the Wildlife Diversity communication Specialist v the Oklahoma department of Wildlife Conservation.


As because that the alligator"s monster snorkeling behavior, it"s completely normal, Donnell told Live Science. "Whenever it ices over, this is a natural solution ," she said. "Since the water they to be in froze over, they had to create a "snorkel," for this reason they tipped their nose out the the water to store some ice-free water, therefore they"re tho able to breathe."

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Alligators space cold-blooded, or ectothermic creatures, which method their body temperature fluctuates through the approximately temperature. That"s why alligators are often discovered basking in the sun or camping out in burrows through air pockets that they"ve dug into the banks of lakes and waterways.

When freeze temperatures hit your habitats, gators don"t bask top top the bank, together cold air have the right to be cooler than the water. Instead of hanging the end in their burrows, where they might end up being trapped underwater if the water freezes over, alligators frequently swim to the surface to go snorkeling, ensuring the they"ll have enough oxygen.

If the water is cold, but not yet frozen, alligators will frequently swim come deeper waters, which are warmer 보다 the shallows, Donnell said.



"Snorkeling" alligators stick the end their snouts in the Red Slough Wildlife management Area of Oklahoma. (Image credit: David Arbor, courtesy that U.S. Forest Service)

Unfortunately, not every one of the alligators endured the cold snap at the Red Slough Wildlife monitoring Area, a 5,800-acre (2,300 hectares) refuge in southeastern Oklahoma that"s controlled by the Oklahoma department of Wildlife Conservation, U.S. Woodland Service and the natural Resources preservation Service.



Not all of the alligators made it through the cold snap. (Image credit: David Arbor, courtesy of U.S. Forest Service)

Donnell didn"t automatically know how many alligators had passed away during the cold snap, but those that did were young. "Most of the adult were able to survive the cold-weather event," she said. "It"s always fascinating how animals will adapt and also how they can carry out different survival techniques."


—Crocs: ancient predators in a contemporary world (photos)

—Alligator alley: pictures of monster reptiles

—See an alligator devour an additional alligator in these gruesome photos


Freezing temperatures and also icy problems aren"t unusual in southeastern Oklahoma; on average, McCurtain County, where Red Slough is located, has around 60 days a year through temperatures below 32 levels Fahrenheit (0 levels Celsius), according to a 2017 research in the journal Herpetological Review.

Nor space snorkeling alligators distinct to Oklahoma; they"ve likewise been spotted in phibìc Carolina in 2018 and 2019, Live Science previously reported.

Originally released on Live Science.



Laura is one editor at Live Science. She to edit Life"s small Mysteries and also reports on basic science, consisting of archaeology and also animals. Her work-related has appeared in The brand-new York Times, Scholastic, well-known Science and also Spectrum, a website on autism research. She has won multiple awards indigenous the culture of skilled Journalists and the Washington Newspaper Publishers association for her reporting at a weekly newspaper near Seattle. Laura holds a bachelor"s level in English literature and psychology from Washington university in St. Louis and also an advanced certificate in scientific research writing indigenous NYU.


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