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How Do Reptiles of Texas Survive a Freeze? Check out This Awesome Alligator Technique 

This week, a chill from the Arctic spread across the U.S., including the southern states. In Texas, temperatures dropped below freezing in several towns, from the countryside to beach towns along the coast. 

Texas is home to some quite intimidating reptiles, including alligators, snakes, and lizards. Although you might not want to come across any of these creatures while out exploring the Lone Star State, it’s not uncommon to spot them basking in the sunshine on warmer days. So what do these cold-blooded creatures do when the temperatures plunge? 

Alligators 

Alligators have an amazing technique for surviving the cold. It’s called “icing.” 

Gary Saurage, from Gator Country in Beaumont, Texas is heard in this viral TikTok footage. He explains how the alligator survives the icy blast. “You can see the entire body of the alligator, but most importantly, look at its snout,” says Gary. “He has pushed his snout up through the ice so he can get oxygen to breathe and survive. Folks, that’s amazing. That’s how alligators survive in the ice!” 

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Image by David Arbour/Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

Snakes and Lizards 

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Image by Kevin Abel

Lizards love the sunshine and will sunbathe for hours to raise their body temperature. When they have had enough sun, they scuttle away to find shade or some water. When it gets too cold, they find a hole in the ground or inside a tree trunk and stay there.

Snakes huddle together, sometimes in groups of hundreds, and wait for the warmer weather to arrive. 

Turtles 

Unfortunately for turtles, the cold makes them lethargic and unable to swim, so they float to the surface of the water. For sea turtles in particular, this makes them vulnerable to boat strikes or becoming stranded ashore. The Texas Department for Wildlife works on the coast to protect and rehabilitate these “cold-stunned” turtles and will release them back into the wild when temperatures rise again.  

Do Reptiles Hibernate? 

Reptiles do not hibernate, but they do brumate. This is the reptile version of hibernation, and it’s almost the same technique. Unable to generate their own heat, cold-blooded reptiles rely on their surroundings to regulate their temperature. They slow their heart rate down, reduce their metabolic rate, and experience a period of dormancy in order to conserve energy and survive the cold. 

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