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Alligators poke heads above ice to cope with bitter cold

This photo provided by George Howard shows an

This photo provided by George Howard shows an alligator suspended in frozen water at the Shallotte River Swamp Park in Ocean Isle, N.C. on Jan. 6, 2018. Photo Credit: Shallotte River Swamp Park via AP / George Howard

OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C. - Although North Carolina's recent bitter cold snap deterred plenty of humans from sticking their noses outdoors, a group of alligators stuck their snouts into the frost and hunkered down in the name of survival.

When the alligators at Shallotte River Swamp Park recently found themselves beneath a sheet of ice as temperatures plunged below freezing, they poked their nostrils above the surface so they could get some air.

The odd scene was a matter of survival for the gators. When they get cold, they enter a period of dormancy known as brumation. They slow their metabolism and their breathing, and before the surface ices over they poke their noses out of the water to continue breathing.

Park officials say the alligators will be on the prowl once temperatures warm up.

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