What did the gator say when it crossed the road? While this may sound like the setup for a joke, in the instance of a recent viral video, the reptile may have expressed gratitude to a helpful Sandhill crane for guiding it across.
The video, which first appeared in the Alligators of Florida Facebook group—because of course this went down in Florida—was uploaded by a woman named Shannon Duke in Pine Island, Hernando County. Duke told Fox 35 Orlando that she initially thought the small alligator was trying to attack one of the birds, until it strolled right past. The crane then appeared to “help” the gator across the street.
“After a short bit, the gator made its move and you see the rest,” Duke recalled. “We were shocked by what we saw. It was a true escort across the street!”
Encounters between alligators and Sandhill cranes are fairly common in Florida, but the two species are typically at odds with one another.
In another viral video taken last year, a Sandhill crane appeared to fend off a gator from a path at an Orlando golf club. In that instance, the crane spread its wings, standing just inches from the gator, which eventually relented and sauntered off.
Savannah Boan, a crocodilian enrichment coordinator at Gatorland, said at the time that it’s rare for alligators to target cranes.
“Sandhill cranes don’t get afraid very easily, but what a Sandhill crane has is a secret weapon against alligators. Alligators are naturally afraid of humans, so what do I look like if I do this?” Born asked, spreading her arms. “I look like a big ‘ole human.”
“They are opportunistic predators, so they’ll grab one if they get close,” she continued. “But in a scenario like that, where there’s a small alligator like that and a huge looking Sandhill crane, the alligator’s always going to be like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a monster, I got to get out of here.'”
It’s unclear what the crane had in mind when it escorted the gator across the road, but it’s possible that it was actually guiding it away from its nest. Though, that explanation isn’t quite as charming as the thought of an interspecies friendship.