Upstate South Carolina Police Surprised After Finding Baby Alligator Wandering the Streets

by Lauren Boisvert
(Image Credit: Trigger Photo/Getty Images)

In upstate South Carolina on Thursday night, the police department stumbled upon an unusual surprise wandering the streets. The Greenville Police Department found a baby alligator roaming Palm Street. According to a report from WISTV, it was Officer Hamilton’s last call of the day, and there were reports of a loose baby alligator.

Police responded, and secured the baby gator. They then took the reptile to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). The department is going to relocate the gator to an area more appropriately habitable. According to the SCDNR, when they find gators upstate, that means someone took them out of the coastal waters, kept them as a pet, and then released them. But, in South Carolina, it’s illegal to own an alligator as a pet. Plus, gator attacks in the state are on the rise. Whoever brought this gator upstate was definitely breaking the law and could have possibly endangered communities if they allowed it to grow there.

“It’s a death sentence for an alligator to release it in an Upstate reservoir,” said Greg Lucas with SCDNR back in April. At that time, there was a hoax photo circulating that claimed there was an alligator in upstate South Carolina. “That’s an irresponsible and cruel act. Alligators don’t do well in cold waters. Since alligators are not supposed to be here in the Upstate, it also frightens Upstate boaters or lake visitors when they see an alligator.”

How Do Alligators Survive in Cold Waters?

Alligators can survive in waters near 40 degrees, but they don’t do too well there. Like most cold-blooded reptiles, they freeze in cold waters and climates, but they do have a way to survive the winter months.

The alligators freeze in the water, but they stick their snouts above the surface of the water before it freezes over. That way, while they lower their metabolic state and go into a sort of coma, they can continue breathing. The whole process is called icing. The reptile’s version of hibernation, brumation, is linked to this feature.

Alligators are cold-blooded, and they rely on the environment around them to regulate their temperatures. Similar to how iguanas in South Florida rain down from the trees every winter, alligators go into a similar state. But, if the water below the surface layer of ice is still liquid, the gators won’t freeze entirely.

“The gators won’t freeze if the water stays liquid,” said David Arbour with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in a Facebook post last February, per CNN. “Their snouts are just cartilage so freezing doesn’t hurt their snouts. They can still move and are aware of things.”

Alligators have a lot of cool survival tactics, and icing is just one of them. Just because they can survive cold climates, though, doesn’t mean they belong there.