The Curious Story of The Fresno Nightcrawler, The California Cryptid That’s Charmed The Internet

Published May 25, 2023
Updated May 26, 2023

First caught on camera in 2007, the Fresno Nightcrawler looks like a pair of pants that can move on its own.

Fresno Nightcrawler

TwitterAn image claiming to show the Fresno Nightcrawler.

The word “cryptid” often conjures images of legendary creatures like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. The Fresno Nightcrawler, on the other hand, is most commonly described as a walking pair of pants.

First spotted in 2007 in Fresno, California, this curious cryptid has taken the Internet by storm. Not only has it inspired t-shirts and stickers, but the Fresno Nightcrawler has also sparked a fierce debate over its origins.

That is, if you believe the legend. While some claim that this cryptid could be connected to aliens or even Native American lore, others insist that purported video evidence of its existence is all faked.

The First Sightings Of The Fresno Nightcrawler

The story of the Fresno Nightcrawler starts with a barking dog. In 2007, a Fresno resident identified as “Jose” decided to mount a camera on his garage to see what made his dogs bark every night, according to Ranker.

To Jose’s shock, his cameras didn’t catch any wild animals or intruders — but something that seemed to defy explanation. The grainy footage appeared to show a pair of white pants practically gliding across his front yard.

Nightcrawler footage captured in 2007 by Jose

Baffled and terrified, Jose started sharing the footage in hopes of finding an explanation. He gave it to Univision, as well as to paranormal investigator Victor Camacho, the host of the Spanish-speaking supernatural program Los Desvelados or “the sleepless ones.”

Though no one could explain what had slunk across Jose’s yard, it didn’t take long before another Fresno Nightcrawler sighting took place. In 2011, security cameras in Yosemite National Park also seemed to capture the same phenomenon — something that looked like pants creeping across the park.

The strange sightings look something like Dr. Seuss’s “Pale Green Pants” from his 1961 book What Was I Scared Of? But many insist that the Fresno Nightcrawler is far from fictional. Indeed, theories abound about its origins.

Theories About This California Cryptid

Fresno Nightcrawler Footage

YouTubeGrainy footage like this claims to have captured the California cryptid, but is there a reasonable explanation behind Fresno Nightcrawler sightings?

What exactly is the Fresno Nightcrawler? Though no one knows for sure, many people have theories about this curious California cryptid.

As Ranker notes, alleged sightings of the Fresno Nightcrawler have provided some clues. The cryptid appears to be somewhat humanoid with two legs and is often seen traveling in pairs. This has led some to speculate that the cryptid is extraterrestrial, while others have drawn connections between the Fresno Nightcrawler and Native American legends.

There is, however, no strong evidence for either of these theories.

Others have wondered if there’s a simpler explanation for the bizarre footage. The Cryptid Wiki proposes that the Fresno Night Crawler could be some kind of primate, deer, or bird, a puppet, or a person in loose pants.

Deer On Hind Legs

Raymond Gehman/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty ImagesSome suggest that sightings of the Fresno Nightcrawler could be explained by a deer eating on its hind legs.

Of course, there could also be a perfectly reasonable explanation behind the Fresno Nightcrawler sightings. Ever since the footage started to circulate on the Internet, many have insisted that the purported images are faked.

Is The Fresno Nightcrawler Real?

To date, many have tried to debunk the Fresno Nightcrawler myth. According to Grunge, YouTuber Captain Disillusion made a video in 2012 showing how the cryptid sightings could have been faked. They showed how video editing could make it seem like a pair of pants was walking across the ground.

The SyFy show “Fact or Faked” also investigated the Fresno Nightcrawler myth in 2012, but were unable to determine if it was a hoax. Ranker reports, however, that they concluded that faking this cryptid would be difficult.

But whether or not the Fresno Nightcrawler is a hoax, people have fallen in love with it — especially people in Fresno.

Fresno Nightcrawler Illustration

TwitterAn illustration imagining a pack of Fresno Nightcrawlers.

“These really intrigued me because they’re from Fresno,” Laura Splotch, a Fresno artist, told the Business Journal. “They look unique and different. It’s a weird thing to fake, but if they’re real, that’s even weirder.”

Indeed, KCET — a Southern California television station — notes that there are all sorts of Fresno Nightcrawler merchandise out there. Fans of the cryptid can buy everything from t-shirts to stickers.

The appeal of the Fresno Nightcrawler may be difficult to pin down, but Fresno locals aren’t opposed to their city’s association with this mysterious California cryptid.

“It’s unexplainable,” Splotch said. “A lot of people are drawn to the unexplainable. But I’d rather Fresno be known for the Nightcrawlers than some of the other stuff we are known for.”

After reading about the Fresno Nightcrawler, learn about seven lesser-known cryptids that are just as cool as Bigfoot. Or, go inside the fascinating myth of the Kandahar Giant, the Biblical cryptid allegedly killed by U.S. special forces in Afghanistan.

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
Maggie Donahue
Maggie Donahue is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. She has a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a Bachelor's degree in creative writing and film studies from Johns Hopkins University. Before landing at ATI, she covered arts and culture at The A.V. Club and Colorado Public Radio and also wrote for Longreads. She is interested in stories about scientific discoveries, pop culture, the weird corners of history, unexplained phenomena, nature, and the outdoors.
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Fraga, Kaleena. "The Curious Story of The Fresno Nightcrawler, The California Cryptid That’s Charmed The Internet.", May 25, 2023, Accessed June 15, 2024.