Do Alligators Hibernate?

Alligators do not hibernate.  Typically alligators live in tropical areas so there is no need for them to do so as the places in which they reside are generally warm year round.  However on colder days, they have been known to hide in underground or underwater dens until the sun begins to warm things up again.

For alligators in areas where hibernation is necessary, they do not “hibernate” per se.  Rather, the process an alligator goes through is known as “brumation” which is somewhat like hibernation, but not really.  The alligators do not sleep during this process, they just slow their metabolisms down a great deal, along with the rest of their body organs and hide, becoming inactive and stop eating as they wait for the weather to warm back up so that they can go about their daily routine.

Alligators are cold blooded creatures; therefore they have the ability to live in water as cool as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, although weaker animals would die at such a temperature.  Alligators however, may be very active in 40 degree Fahrenheit weather by using behavioral adjustments.  This can consist of a number of things including the construction of burrows facing the sun.

Not all alligators use burrows, however it is common for many to do so. Some of the burrows are located in banks and the alligator’s lair is above the water able so it rests in a musty little room.  Other alligators may prefer to make their burrow below the water’s surface, however in this case the alligators that use these would have to resurface every now and then for air.  These burrows are referred to as alligator holes and are most often used during drought periods.  If they dry, the alligator moves to another body of water.

When winter approaches (for those gators who don’t reside in tropical areas) when the temperature drops anywhere below 70 degrees Fahrenheit or so, the creatures generally stop feeding, and as it gets colder begin to dig a den or alligator hole.  They stay in this hole and remain dormant until it warms up again.

Alligators have even been known to survive freezing conditions.  They have been known to rise to the surface if the water is about to freeze, with their nostrils above the surface.  This allows them to breathe through the ice as it forms.  In extreme cases, they may get frozen to the surface of the pond for several days and then swim free once the ice melts.

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