Groundhog Day has come and gone and Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow, predicting six more weeks of winter.
Here in the Lowcountry we don’t have many groundhogs, but we do have a lot of water, which is where we look to for our own sign that Winter is coming to a close.
According to an article written by Walt Rhodes for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the Lowcountry has it’s ‘own ambassador of Spring.’
The American Alligator is a cold-blooded animal and it’s body reflects the temperature of the environment around it.
During the cold months, alligators are forced into a ‘lethargic mode’, but after the days start to grow longer it is more common to see them basking in the sun along the water edge for short periods of time.
Alligators are physically unable to eat until their body temperature is maintained at 72 degrees or higher, which according to Rhodes, typically doesn’t happen until April and on the rare occasion March.
A cold blast can cause an alligator to retreat into it’s den, but as the temperatures become more moderate it is more and more common to see them lying on the bank and waiting as the warmer temperatures triggers them into mating season.
Rhodes writes that the “alligator’s daily presence now signaled the end of winter” as it waits for the even warmer temperatures of the Spring and mating season, making it the Lowcountry’s own symbol of the warm season.