A video of a Great Blue Heron in Florida is going viral after it was filmed swallowing an alligator whole.
Wildlife photographer Shellie Gilliam captured the encounter on December 5 at the Florida Wildlife & Exotic Animal Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Center, where she works, according to her Facebook page.
She uploaded a series of photos and video of the awe-inspiring bird to her page, writing:
Yes, A bird can eat an alligator! If it’s Savage enough… Amazing Photo series and a video clip I shot of a Great Blue Heron killing and eating a large juvenile Alligator at Lake Apopka, Florida.
The Heron caught the alligator a few hundred yards away where I spotted it first, then it flew with it in its mouth to this spot where the GBH spent about 25 minutes finishing the alligator off and consuming it. Wow! Nature and wildlife never fail to amaze me!
The video shows the Great Blue Heron grabbing the juvenile gator by the neck. It then shakes the prey and swallows it whole.
Gilliam’s post has since amassed over 100 comments and more than 640 shares. You can watch the video below.
Here’s what you need to know:
Gilliam Said She Frequents the Lake Apopka Area, but Had Never Witnessed Anything Like This Before, According to Local Media
According to WFLA, Gilliam expressed that she is a regular at the Lake Apoka area, but had never seen anything quite like the recent Great Blue Heron encounter.
“I first thought it was a large fish or a greater siren, but upon closer review through my camera, discovered it was a large juvenile alligator,” Gilliam recalled to the station.
The photographer explained to WFLA that she witnessed the bird flee with “the gator in its mouth” before it flew to the spot where she captured it in her photos and video.
“I had to walk a few hundred yards back to where he landed, whew. Once in a lifetime experience,” she said, the station reported.
The Great Blue Heron Is the Largest Heron in North America, According to the National Audubon Society
The National Audubon Society, an American non-profit environmental organization dedicated to conservation of birds and their habitat, claims that the Great Blue Heron is the largest Heron in North America.
The bird’s diet consists mostly of fish but can include frogs, salamanders, turtles, snakes, insects, rodents, birds and alligators, according to The Society. The Great Blue Heron has also been seen stalking voles and gophers in fields, the organization continues.
On The Society’s section about the heron, it states:
Widespread and familiar (though often called “crane”), the largest heron in North America. Often seen standing silently along inland rivers or lakeshores, or flying high overhead, with slow wingbeats, its head hunched back onto its shoulders. Highly adaptable, it thrives around all kinds of waters from subtropical mangrove swamps to desert rivers to the coastline of southern Alaska. With its variable diet it is able to spend the winter farther north than most herons, even in areas where most waters freeze. A form in southern Florida (called “Great White Heron”) is slightly larger and entirely white.