By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
Hands off my son! The mother alligator gives chase after a cheeky heron snatched one of its young from the nest
This hungry heron clearly got more than it bargained for after snatching a baby alligator from its nest.
The vulnerable reptile was grabbed by the large wading bird which then ran off with its lunch held in its beak.
But the brave bird was spotted by the alligator's irate mother, which reared up on its hind legs as it gave chase baring her fearsome teeth.
Brave: The heron had spotted the baby alligator and grabbed it in its beak before making a break for it
The protective beast hurtled after the frightened Great Blue Heron until it finally dropped its precious cargo on the grass.
The six-inch long baby then managed to scuttle back its nest at a wildlife reserve in Polk County, Florida, under the watchful eye of its mother.
Photographer Claudia Kuenkel, 46, captured the incredible moment.
She said: 'It was a pretty awesome sight. Luckily I was about 90ft away from the action so I wasn't worried about my own safety.
Better make it snappy: The Great Blue Heron thought it had found a lunchtime snack, but was spotted by the mother lurking near the nest
'The first thing I saw was the bird just standing there. It wasn't a big deal so I turned away, but the next thing I saw was this huge alligator running.
'Normally they just lie around in the sun and don't really move - I've never seen one like that.'
The heron does not appear to have had time to take off as it ran along the grass bank.
In a flap: The frantic bird attempts to take off as its massive pursuer closes
But it remained near the nest after dropping its lunch on the off-chance of another morsel.
Ms Kuenkel, from Florida, added: 'It actually wasn't until afterwards when I looked at my photos that I saw the baby alligator in the heron's beak and realised what had happened.
'I've never seen a heron eating an alligator baby like this, but I do know they're vulnerable to all kinds of predators when they're so small.
'The mothers are very protective and can be ferocious if anyone tries to harm their babies. Luckily this one had its mum looking out for it.'
Spilled it: As the alligator almost rears on to its hind legs, the frightened heron drops the baby to the ground
Maternal instinct: Having chased off the would-be predator, the mother returns to her nest with her baby, but the plucky heron still lurks around in case of another chance
Thursday, March 17, 2011
That's my baby! Cheeky heron is chased by irate alligator mother after it swipes young from her nest
By DAILY MAIL REPORTER