Where Do Alligators Sleep When They Get Tired?

People often ask us, “Where do alligators sleep? Do alligators hibernate?” There are so many interesting facts about these reptiles and you may be wondering the same. We are proud to be one of the best places in Florida to learn about the American alligator and all of its unique characteristics. Many people from around the world travel to South Florida to visit the beautiful and breathtaking Florida Everglades. At Everglades Holiday Park, we provide airboat tours in Miami so that visitors can get up close and personal with the unique wildlife, such as an American alligator. You can also see our live American alligator show while visiting us. We explain many interesting facts about these creatures, such as their sleep patterns, how they adjust their body temperature, and more!

Understanding Alligator Physiology

Cold-Blooded Vs. Warm-Blooded Animals

Alligators are cold-blooded animals and cannot regulate their body temperatures as warm-blooded animals can. Cold-blooded animals need to protect themselves from extreme cold or heat. On particularly cold or warm days, alligators hide in tunnels they dig for temporary protection to keep their body temperature within the ideal range. As temperatures drop from ideal temperatures, alligators may begin by basking in the sun- a favorite hobby of American alligators in the Everglades. As temperatures warm even more, they can spend less time in the full sun and maybe even cool off with a nice float in the water.

Some warm-blooded animals hibernate in a deep sleep and will not even eat, as they slow down many of their body functions to be able to survive the extreme cold of winter. When bears hibernate, their heart rate, temperature, and breathing are lowered enough to keep them safe. Instead of hibernating, reptiles ‘brumate’, and this helps alligators survive very cold temperatures. Both hibernating and brumating last about four to five months.


Alligators live in any freshwater area, such as a swamp, marsh, or lake. They do not last very long in saltwater, and their natural habitat is comprised of grasslands that have plenty of prey for them. The Florida Everglades is home to so many alligators and this is the one place where both alligators and crocodiles cohabitate. When a baby alligator is first hatched, they tend to stay by their mother until it’s time to fend for themselves and explore their habitat.


Do alligators hibernate in winter? No, cold-blooded animals do not hibernate. Instead, they can undergo phases of dormancy when the temperatures drop, and it becomes too cold for them to be out in the open. They create a “gator hole” along the waterway that provides protection during extreme weather conditions. They essentially dig tunnels in the mud where they sleep, and when they come out of the gator hole, other animals come in and inhabit the area. It can be hard to say how long these gators will sleep in the tunnels, however, once they have a few warm days, they will come out of the dormancy. Alligators also slow down during the winter months and this is due to the colder waters and living environment.

If you take an airboat ride through the Everglades, you may come across some gators sunbathing on rocks as they love to sleep in the sun. They mostly feed at night and sleep in different parts of the day. These reptiles will take every chance they can get to bask in the sun and take long naps.

So where do alligators sleep? While you may come across a gator that appears to be sleeping, it’s very important that you keep your distance as these gators know no limits for prey. If you are looking for an Everglades airboat tour, Everglades Holiday Park provides tours near Miami. You may come across some of the most exciting wildlife that these historic grasslands have to offer. For more information on the airboat tours and other outdoor excursions, we offer, give us a call today! We are open 7 days a week, rain or shine.

Other Interesting Facts About Alligators’ Bodies

  • Alligators can replace worn-down teeth. They will go through thousands of teeth in their lifetime!
  • Alligators’ eyes, like many animals, glow in the low light, but theirs glow red!
  • Bony plates on an alligator’s back, called scutes, are like warming plates for its whole body.
  • Baby alligators use an ‘egg tooth’ to break through the egg when hatching.
  • Opening their mouths, called gaping, helps alligators regulate temperature since they do not sweat.
  • Alligator blood is pretty amazing! It offers protection against many viruses and infections.

How Alligators Survive Cold Temperatures

These large reptiles are able to survive winter by drastically adjusting their metabolic rate in extreme cold weather to conserve energy. When alligators need to gather warmth, they will bask or sunbathe. Because they are cold-blooded, this will warm them up significantly.

The Misconception of Alligators and Hibernation

Contrary to popular belief, alligators do not hibernate since they are cold-blooded reptiles. Alligators and other reptiles’ version of hibernation is brumating. When brumating in winter, they stay much less active than normal, and do not eat, but will drink water to avoid dehydration. They will have some periods where they remain active.

When it’s really cold, and water freezes over, you may see alligators displaying icing behavior with their snouts sticking out through a hole in the ice for an air pocket to be able to breathe. This is a dangerous time for alligators and other reptiles. They need to fight to survive and make it to warmer days. They may look to be dead, but they are very much alive and waiting for warmer temperatures to leave the water and bask.

How Alligators Prepare As Winter Approaches

Where do alligators go in the winter? As winter months get near, alligators stay in mud holes to keep warm and sheltered during colder days. They can stay warm surrounded by layers of insulating mud, and there is plenty of room to still breathe. If it’s cold enough, alligators brumate to survive.

Do Alligators Go into a Deep Slumber or Deep Sleep?

Brumation is not a deep sleep, like hibernation, but it does have many similarities and is a period of much less activity than normal. Animals will mostly shut down when winter gets cold enough, and during that time, they lose interest in finding food. Hibernating animals will not eat or sleep during that period, but alligators and other brumating reptiles are still active enough to drink water and avoid dehydration.

Do Alligators in Places Like South Carolina Behave the Same Way as Those in Southern Florida?

Despite hearing about more alligator issues in Florida, alligators in South Carolina and throughout the southeastern states behave just as well or poorly as our Florida alligators; we just have more! After Louisiana, Florida has the most alligators and about ten times as many as South Carolina!

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