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Nothing to see here, just an alligator popsicle

Monday, March 1st 2021, 3:09 pm - No need to worry, experts say.

When cold weather hit the southern U.S. last month, lakes froze over and created a peculiar sight, often referred to as 'alligator popsicles'.

Recently, in Oklahoma, the reptiles could be seen submerged in icy water, with nothing but their snouts sticking out.


Nothing out of the norm, Jena Donnell, the Wildlife Diversity Communication Specialist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, tells Live Science.

"Whenever it ices over, this is a natural response [seen in alligators]," she said. "Since the water they were in froze over, they had to create a 'snorkel,' so they tipped their nose out of the water to keep some ice-free water, so they're still able to breathe."

Alligators are cold-blooded, which is why we most often associate them with basking in the warm, southern sun.

Alligator - David Arbor - US Forest Service Behold: The elusive alligator popsicle. Courtesy David Arbor/US Forest Service

When it starts to freeze they'll often head into the water, because it can be warmer than the cold air. They'll avoid underwater burrows because they can become trapped if the surface freezes over, Live Science explains.

The compromise, then, is to 'snorkel' -- allowing the alligators to benefit from the warmer water, without the worry of suffocating.

The survival tactic is an effective one, according to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC).

"Through the recent winter storm, we received many questions about alligators and their survival through the severe temperatures Oklahoma experienced," the government agency said in a Facebook post.

"ODWC biologists were able to monitor the population and have reported a 100% survival rate among the adult specimens. However, the cold did overcome some of the youngest of the monitored group. While this is an unfortunate loss the population remains sustainable, healthy, and is expected to continue to thrive."

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