Photos: Gators’ Bodies Shut Down While Locked In Ice

David Arbour / Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation / Facebook

Over the past week, much of the country has seen its share of winter weather. The frigid weather caused water sources to ice over, and in Oklahoma, the alligators began to freeze as well.

Several alligators have been spotted among the icy waters with their snouts sticking out of the water. While the reptiles are unmoving, scientists assured residents that the alligators are merely implementing a survival technique.

In an interview with Science Alert, Adam E. Tosenblatt, a biology professor from the University of North Flordia, explained that alligators respond to freezing waters by entering “brumation.” While in the hibernation-like state, ice sticks to the alligators’ snouts and locks the animals in place while their bodies dangle beneath the surface. In brumation, the alligators slow their heart rate and shut down their metabolism, which means the animals do not need to eat.

“They basically shut down their metabolism. They don’t need to eat because they’re not burning a lot of energy,” Rosenblatt explained. “They slow down their heart rate, their digestive system, and they just sit there and wait out the cold weather. It’s a pretty amazing adaptation.”

After temperatures rise and warm weather returns, the alligators go back to life as usual. For more on how alligators survive icy temperatures, check out the video below.