BEAUMONT, Texas -- It was so cold in Texas last week that an alligator at a rescue center was found completely stuck under a frozen pond - but still breathing with a barely beating heart.
Local rescue center Gator Country posted a viral TikTok of the gator, showing how it managed to survive. Beaumont, where the center's located, saw temperature highs no greater than the 40s last week, according to Weather Underground.
"We all know what alligators do during the summer and spring ... but what do they do in the winter and how do they survive?" Gator Country owner Gary Saurage says in the video before pointing to an alligator in a frozen pond.
The gator can be seen almost completely submerged in the frozen body of water, with only parts of the top of its tail sticking out - as well as the very tip of its snout through a hole in the ice.
"That animal is in full hibernation right there," Saurage says. "His heart is beating three beats per minute. Folks, that's amazing. That's how alligators survive in the ice."
What Saurage is referring to is a process known as brumation. Alligators are reptiles, meaning that they're cold-blooded and rely on their surrounding environment to stay warm. During brumation, reptiles enter a low metabolic state where they engage in minimal activity, but still wake up and will drink, according to the South Carolina Aquarium.
In Texas, wildlife officials say gators typically brumate between mid-October and early March. The animals will usually brumate in dens, but sometimes, they'll end up in water. When that water ices over, Oklahoma Ranger District Wildlife Biologist Robert Bastarache said in 2021 that the gators will use their snouts to make a hole so that they can stick their nostrils out to breathe.
"As long as they can keep their nostrils above water level, they should survive," he said.
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