According to a Facebook post from Dave Arbour with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the technique is called “icing,” and it’s when alligators allow the ice to freeze around their snouts so they can keep their noses above water to breathe while resting just below the surface.
Because their snouts are made of cartilage, the freezing doesn’t hurt them, and the alligators can enter a hibernation-like state called brumation to conserve energy. The gators, which can still move and are still aware of their surroundings, are able to survive in the frigid conditions as long as the water below the surface stays liquid. And once it thaws back out, they go right back to their normal lives.
Gotta admit, I’ve never really think about what alligators do to survive in freezing bodies of water (because how often does that happen), but it’s pretty cool to see that even gators can adapt to the most extreme weather conditions.