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Swamp Encounters 101: Do Alligators Hibernate? 

Home Swamp Wildlife Swamp Encounters 101: Do Alligators Hibernate? 

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Featured Image Credit: George Howard, The Swamp Park, Ocean Isle Beach, NC

It’s a question that has plagued mankind since the dawning of time: isn’t it too cold for alligators during the fall/winter months in Louisiana? North American Alligators, which were once nearly extinct, are survivors and can even possibly adapt to modern climate change to survive as they have since ancient times. Cold-blooded creatures that they are, alligators can even survive in water temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they don’t care for it.

Therefore, you don’t hear of too many ice-fishing encounters with alligators in places like Wisconsin. If an alligator were in a colder climate, and decided to leave a body of water, which would be warmer than air, said alligator would freeze to death once hit by the cooler air.

Is it Too Cold for Alligators?

So, where are all the gators in late Autumn and Winter? Alligators tend to stop feeding when the temperature drops below 70 degrees and become dormant at around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. They, as reptiles, can slow their metabolism down and become very lethargic, just like humans around the holidays as well. Alligators eat less, while their mammal counterparts in nature (especially humans) tend to eat more during colder months. 

Contrary to popular belief, alligators do not hibernate; they brumate. Reptiles do not enter a state of hibernation, but rather one of brumation. Like the creepy reptiles that they are, they can still move in this state of brumation and are very much aware of their surroundings.  

Often, gators will brumate on the bottom of a bayou or swamp and resurface once a day just to breathe. If the body of water were to freeze, alligators will surface the tips of their snouts above the ice in a procedure known as “snorkeling”, with only their nostrils visible while the rest of the gator is under frozen water. 

Alligator Hunting Season

Alligator hunting season ended in October. So, hunting alligators may be out of the question at this time of year. However, that means that some of your favorite restaurants will now be serving blackened or fried alligator.

So, this season, don’t be too confident that they are not around because it’s too cold outside. They just might not feel like taking a bite out of you. The most dangerous time of year for humans as it pertains to gators is late June and July when female alligators will nest and become overly aggressive when protecting their nearly four dozen eggs.

See It For Yourself

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Thanks to the cooler weather, autumn and winter are wonderful seasons to embark on an alligator swamp tour with Cajun Encounters. Guests can travel down the Honey Island Swamp, experiencing the beauty of one of the most untarnished ecosystems in America first-hand. If that is not enough, there are plenty of educational opportunities to learn about the plants and animals that inhabit it.

Cajun Encounters is always open and ready for those who wish to experience a little adventure outside of daily norms. Guests are guaranteed the best educational experience possible with trained experts, as they venture out into the wilderness and come across alligators in the swamp. Cajun Encounters is working hard to ensure not only the satisfaction but also the safety of its visitors by implementing proper COVID-19 protocol.

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