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Chasing Chupacabras

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on March 9th, 2013

Source: Outside Online

Monster Hunt: The Chupacabra

Katie Heaney tries to figure out the difference between “shriveled dead thing” and chupacabra


Is this a chupacabra? Probably not, but it’s dead, so how could we ever know for sure? Photo: Pablo Spekuljak/Flickr

The trouble with the chupacabra is that it looks an awful lot like a handful of other, regular animals. When someone thinks he’s found one in the United States, the creature usually looks like a coyote, or a fox, or a dog, or a wolf, or a small kangaroo—just slightly off. But most things look a little off when they’re dead. And that’s what most so-called chupacabras have in common when they are found: being a shriveled dead thing.

But then there are those that describe the chupacabra more like a creeping lizard, a green-gray-black scaled monster, either with color-changing spikes or duller black (but still deadly, in the end) spines trailing down its back and tail, with a Hollywood bug-eyed alien face and claws on its fingers and toes. This is the fantastic version, and, it has to be said, the one without the carcasses to show for it. There are only drawings. Or, anyway, that’s what they want us to think.

The chupacabra—the name, Spanish for “goat sucker,” for the animal’s reported eating habits, the vampiric puncture wounds found on the necks or chests of its prey—is a relatively new legend, which I think makes it just slightly more suspicious for reasons I can’t quite explain but which have something to do with having too much familiarity with the historical setting into which it was born. (It’s the same way with religions, for some people. If you had relatives whose names you know and who were around and living when it all got started, doesn’t it just seem less authentic somehow?) 1995? I remember 1995. It did not seem an especially mystical year, or anything like one that could give birth to a new strain of folklore that could last for decades or more. But then, maybe I was too busy with the fourth grade to notice.

It is to that year, though, that the first eyewitness account of a chupacabra dates back, spotted in Puerto Rico by a woman named Madelyne Tolentino. A few months earlier, eight sheep drained of blood, apparently through puncture marks in their chests, were found dead in a town nearby. The attacks intensified, and soon some—some, but not all, of which were goats—were found mutilated in Canóvanas, where Tolentino lived. She was the first to report seeing the creature responsible.

In the months between the first set of attacks and Tolentino’s report, she went to see the science-fiction movie Species, about a sexy (but lethal) alien woman named Sil who is hell-bent on seducing a human man and who, in her true, spiny-backed form looks more than a little like Tolentino’s drawing of her chupacabra.

That’s how Benjamin Radford—a paranormal enthusiast-but-skeptic whose written works (and podcast, MonsterTalk) exist to ruin the fun everyone else is having by applying scientific criticism to cryptozoologic and legendary phenomena—came to decide the lizard-man variety of the chupacabra mystery was nothing but a cinematic fever dream. It’s fair enough, if you’re looking for “explanations,” or whatever.

Read the rest of the article here.

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.


3 Responses to “Chasing Chupacabras”

  1. Goodfoot responds:

    Thanks, Craig, for one of my favorite cryptoids. However, I must bring this down to earth for a moment: CHUPACABRAS. NOT “chupacabra”.

    “Sucker of goats”, not just one, lone, shriveled, dried-up, desanguinated goat. Pobrecito!

  2. Cliched Username responds:

    Its about time that somebody took the time to do such a simple mental exercise. It should be obvious, given elements including the climate differences and territorial expanse, that the common misconception that the Chupacabras of Puerto Rico and the “coyote/Mexican dog” version that has been publicized in the United States are the same is incredibly wrong.

    The first reason being someting that should be obvious to the average viewer, yet somehow always gets ignored, native fauna. Puerto Rico is an offshore, tropical archipelago, with a wild population of coyotes and Mexican wild bald dogs rounding 0. There is no way that the rash of Puerto Rican attacks reported in the 1990s could be atributed to these “stange and mysterious corpses” that keep popping around the southern deserts. Particularly when in some of these reported attacks, the cages holding the victims were suspended several feets above the groud and yet, were either skillfully opened or detached to remove them. That sophisticated modus operandi is something that I can expect to see in a monkey or simian, but never in the pack-oriented mentality of a dog or even a coyote.

    The PR attacks created an urban legend that proved popular enough to make it to Mexico, where it was quickly adopted due to the country’s mystical culture. However, this also created the misconception that the Chupacabras is akin to the “Mexican Bigfoot”, which creates a massive misdirection in the path that serious researchers should take. “Studying” these carcasses is a waste of time, and while expecting a Puerto Rican modern-day Chimera might also be a farfetched idea, the only sensible place to actually study the phenomenom is not in the middle of the desert, but in the Caribbean, where it all began.

    If CryptoMundo expects the research surrounding the Chupacabras phenomenom to be taken seriously, it should continue to help in dispelling that “Mexican Bigfoot” theory, which has (unfortunately) been spreaded even further with the help of Scooby-Doo and other misinformed television shows.

  3. BronzeSteel responds:

    The 90’s were awesome.



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