Down South we have our own groundhog forecast: The alligator

Image by Flickr user faxpilot Image by 20090202-gator.jpg If you see this, then it's warm out. But, you might have other thoughts running through your head at that moment.

While the veteran groundhog "Punxsutawney Phil" has already predicted six more weeks of winter, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources says the less cuddly alligator does just an even better job at reading the weather.

In part:

The Lowcountry still does have a winter and is in need of "a sign" to signal that spring is on its way. ...

Being a cold-blooded animal, the gator's body temperature reflects the environment in which he inhabits. So when it's cold, he's cold and vice versa. Since the late days of November, our ambassador has been forced into a lethargic mode. ... The alligator, with daily routine, is monitoring the lengthening days for warmth. On occasion, temperate days in January may tempt the gator to bask in the soothing rays, a chance to escape the 50-degree water.

The gist? If you see a 'gator sun'n, then it's starting to get warm. Just don't get too happy to see the scaly beast if he's sunning in your yard, OK?

An interesting fact I picked up along the way is that alligators don't usually start feeding again until April, when their bodies hit the requisite 72-degree temperature.

It's a rather odd story coming from the DNR, it's factual, yet fun. If you're interested in local wildlife it's probably well worth your time.

Here's a link.

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