Sometimes, you just have to conquer your fears. In the case of this particular prairie dog, “conquering your fears” apparently involved climbing onto the snout of a sleeping alligator:

According to a UPI article, the video was captured at Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, Massachusetts. Keith Poisant Sr. managed to film the strange behaviour while visiting the zoo’s alligator enclosure. Fortunately for us, he decided to upload the resulting video to YouTube and share the bizarre spectacle with the rest of us.

And bizarre really is the best way to describe the scene. A foolhardy prairie dog enters the enclosure of a sleeping alligator, where it stops and stares at the sleeping predator for a few seconds. Then, for reasons that will likely forever be beyond our understanding, the prairie dog decides the best course of action is not to run way from the animal that could swallow it whole, but instead walk toward it. Once it finds itself snout to snout with the gator, the prairie dog then decides to use the alligator’s snout as a stepping stool.

Unsurprisingly, the gator wakes up, appears to be immensely confused by the presence of a strange prairie dog on its snout, and opens its mouth with a hiss of annoyance. The showboating prairie dog finally decides that enough is enough and runs off, leaving the alligator behind.

“You gotta be kidding me,” says one bystander in the footage, expressing what he thought the alligator must be thinking. “I had dinner sitting right on my nose!”

Prairie dogs, which are a type of ground squirrel found throughout North America, are highly social foragers and not generally known for their acts of heroism. They certainly aren’t known to regularly taunt alligators. Perhaps this particular prairie dog was channeling the words of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt who once famously said that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Though if we’re being honest, the prairie dog probably should add alligators to that list.

Top image: Nilfanion/Wikimedia Commons