We all know there are alligators in South Carolina.  Some areas are definitely more populated with these creatures than others.  While some people try to avoid an alligator encounter altogether, some people enjoy heading out to see these beasts.  If you’ve spent any amount of time at Brick Pond Park or Phinizy Swamp, chances are you’ve seen a gator or two! They are definitely fascinating creatures, but also very dangerous too.  Hence the reason you’ll see signs about NOT feeding them!

Weather Cools Down

But now that the weather is starting to cool off… where do the alligators go this time of year? According to Island Packet, many warm-blooded animals go into hibernation when the temperatures drop. But, alligators are cold-blooded reptiles.  Their methods are a bit different.

Alligators, and also snakes in South Carolina, go into a state called “brumation.” Because of their cold-blooded nature, alligators can’t get the heat they need from the environment once the temperatures cool down.  But by “brumation” they conserve their energy.

Island Packet says brumation is similar to hibernation in some ways.  Both are “dormant-like” states.  But for reptiles like alligators, brumation is a state that slows their metabolic and physiological processes.  And they become quite lethargic.

What Happens During Brumation

During this time, unlike warm-blooded animals, brumating reptiles don’t go into a deep sleep.  They continue to drink to avoid dehydration, but they don’t eat during this time. So while it’s highly unlikely you’ll see an alligator this time of year, sightings do still occur.  Because we all know that here in the Georgia-South Carolina area, we still have some warmer days.  And the alligators take advantage of those days to absorb some warmth!

Brumation (and hibernation too) lasts about 4 to 5 months.  During that time, alligators create mud holes for shelter and warmth.

Another cool fact? The ridges on an alligator’s back serve as a heat conductor! Blood running along the ridges gets warmed and circulates throughout the alligator’s body.  And if they get too warm… they open their mouths to dispel heat!

Still Watch Out For The Gators!

So, if you’re heading out the Brick Pond Park or Phinizy Swamp this time of year, you might not see any gators, unless it’s a really warm day.  But while you’re walking through, watch out for those mud holes!