Oklahomans came face-to-face with popsicle-like alligators — reptiles whose snouts were sticking straight out of the icy water — when the cold snap hit the American South this month. But why were these alligators “snorkeling” in such cold weather? Why weren’t they sunning on the banks or hiding in their burrows? And who knew Oklahoma even had alligators? The news of the snorkeling alligators sparked a debate on Facebook over whether alligators ( Alligator mississippiensis ) were a native or introduced species to the state. According to an 1866 description of an alligator written in an Oklahoman man’s diary, it appears that they are native, although other alligators have been introduced to wetlands in the state’s southeastern corner since then, said Jena Donnell, the Wildlife Diversity Communication Specialist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. As for the alligator’s weird snorkeling behavior, it’s completely normal, Donnell told Live Science. “Whenever it ices over, this is a natural response [seen in alligators],” she said. “Since the water they were in froze over, they had to create a ‘snorkel,’ so they tipped their nose out of the water to keep some ice-free water, so they’re still able to breathe.” Related: Alligators vs…. Read full this story
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