Unseasonably warm weather keeping alligators active

BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - Warm weather in Beaufort County is keeping residents and tourist on the beaches and in swimwear longer this year.

As temperatures reach the near 80s, that weather is also helping keep one of the area's reptile friends around as well. Usually during the winter some animals hibernate due to cold weather. Well since temperatures here have been unseasonably warm, not all of those animals are retreating, including the alligator, which was spotted several times just last week.

At least nine gators have been spotted across the Lowcountry on Fripp Island, Lady's Island and even the Sea Islands. The increased sightings are all thanks to the weather that's managed to stay warmer than usual during this time of year, which is putting the reptile's hibernation period on hold.

"Typically this time of year alligators are hibernating, well people think they're hibernating, but they're actually in brumation, which is like hibernation but not really. They don't hibernate to sleep, they just slow their metabolism down a great deal and pretty much hideout until it's warm again. But with it not being cold yet, they still think it's summer or fall so they're everywhere just being themselves and doing what they do," said Gene Brancho, Eat Sleep Play Beaufort.

Usually alligator sightings are increased between early March and July, which is their mating season.

According to South Carolina law, it is actually illegal to feed, kill, harass or own a gator, which is to protect both humans and the animals. So if you happen to see a gator make sure to steer clear, never getting closer than 15 feet to the large reptile.

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