Every year, across North and South America, the infamous El Chupacabra terrorizes the animals in an unsuspecting town. What exactly is the Chupacabra? The answer depends on the location of its sighting. According to Animal Planet, it’s often thought of as a “mix of vampire and marauding, furry lizard,” and one of the more popular of the beasts studied in cryptozoology, that is, “the study of animals that may or may not be real.”
The earliest sightings of the beast, whose name translates to “goat-sucker,” come from the late 1960s in South America. Countries like Chile and Brazil are rife with stories of the chupacabra, who allegedly laid waste to goats and chickens, leaving bloody fang-wounds and drained animals in its wake. The reports can get positively hyperbolic, with eyewitnesses claiming to have seen them flying, leaping like monkeys, and bearing deadly fangs.
Princeton University website is home to a student-run “Chupacabra home page” which suggests that it may in fact be an alien from another planet, “a half-man, half-beast vampire who roams the countryside terrorizing farm animals.” A sulfur-like odor may linger in its wake. It may also be something like a giant jungle-cat “with red eyes and a long snake-like tongue.” However, their alleged killing in always in stealth mode—and they never eat the animals they kill. Whatever it is, it’s the perfect beast to inspiring some Halloween heebie jeebies.
Chupacabra makes annual appearances, according to eyewitnesses. Animal Planet cites the winter of 1995 as “a time like no other” in “the annals of Chupacabra lore,” when a minimum of a dozen Chupacabra attacks were reported in Puerto Rico. In every case, animals ranging from sheep, to cows, to chickens to goats tuned up dead of “single wounds to the neck,” drained of blood.
The Chupacabra rumors then traveled to neighboring Florida, where “69 chickens, goats and ducks” were found dead on a Florida lawn, drained of blood, as is the Chupacabra’s calling card. Michigan and Oregon suffered subsequent attacks.
This time, El Chupacabra has turned up in the Southern California burb of Riverside, stalking the common house cat and dog, according to neighbors. Huffington Post reports that one resident of the neighborhood where it was spotted, Cary Shuker, said he scared off the creature outside his home after his terrified cat came racing inside. He said it was “two feet longer than the biggest coyote you’ve ever seen” with a rat-like tail. When it growled at him, he told The Press-Enterprise, “It was cussing me out, basically. I stole its breakfast.”
Shuker was not the only resident who saw the mysterious beast. Three other residents also told The Press-Enterprise that they saw the creature and were afraid for their pets, or even themselves if they went out for a walk.
However, Loren Coleman, director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Maine, suggested it was no mythical “goat-sucker” but most likely a sad coyote with mange, or related canid cousin, which includes coyotes, foxes, dogs, and red wolves.
People label dog-like cryptic beasts ‘Chupacabras’ because they love mysteries, and it’s the hip thing to do,” Coleman said.
Indeed, a year before residents in the Southern California town of El Cajon also saw what they believed to be a Chupacabra and turned out to be mangy coyotes. “DNA results prove these are 100 percent canid…usually with mange,” Coleman said.
The Chupacabra may belong to the realm of legend; what pet owners should be concerned about, however, is not a vicious blood letting but that the animals might transmit their communicable mange, a parasitic skin disease, to their domestic pets.