Thylacine or Mangy Fox?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 12th, 2007


What could be the source of the new sightings of striped mystery animals, detailed below?

When is a striped mystery animal seen in Australia not automatically tied to the sightings of Thylacines? Apparently, it was bound to happen in this Year of Mange.

You will note in this article the code word “mystery.”

But you will not find anything about the Thylacine, by name, in the following article. I noted that cryptid in the headline to not ignore the most obvious unknown striped animal seen in Australia. However, Thylacines have black stripes on a brownish body, and the description is of “dirty grey coat with white stripes on its rib area.”


Sometimes a Thylacine’s stripes appeared faded, whiter, or on more parts of the body than normally thought.

But maybe the “mystery animal” looked more like an unknown felid. If you re-read the description of the cryptid, you will see how thin it really is (the description, not the animal).

What did the animal look like, really? Did the animal have a broad muzzle? What was the length of the hair? What was the shape of the legs? There are so many unanswered questions in this quick report.

This is breaking news from the rural countryside halfway between Geelong, the second largest city in the state of Victoria, Australia, and the town of Winchelsea.

(I have added the photographs, for Cryptomundo comparative and illustrative purposes. They were not with the published article.)

A Freshwater Creek farmer believes he spotted an unidentified animal near his home last week.

Harry Cook yesterday told of having watched the mysterious four-legged creature on Friday at 4pm while showing a friend his property.

“We looked into the valley and this strange animal was standing there, with three wedge-tail eagles circling above. It had a dirty grey coat with white stripes on its rib area. I thought, God, it’s strange,” he said.

“When it saw us it went into a crouching run and took off into the creek.”

Mr Cook said the animal was about 1m tall with a small head, long legs and a slim build. He said the tail was upright and hairless, unlike anything he had seen before.

“What I saw wasn’t a fox, foxes don’t stand that tall. It’s a new kid on the block, I suppose,” he said.


This “mystery animal” (above) photographed in 2004 in North Carolina turned out to be a fox with mange, which in advanced stages can look very “mangy” (see below). But are stripes visible in mangy foxes?


Liz Wylie also reported seeing a similar creature on her nearby property in Modewarre.

The mum-of-three yesterday said she saw a striped animal three months ago casually walk past her horse being held in a paddock.

“I know what foxes look like and I know what wild dogs look like. This wasn’t either of those,” she said.

Big cat researcher Simon Townsend said anything was possible but the animal was most likely a mangy fox.

“If it’s showing stripes it may be suffering from problems with its coat,” he said. ~ by Britt Smith, “More strange animal sightings,”, Geelong Advertiser, December 12, 2007.

Thanks to Chad Arment, publisher of Coachwhip Publications, for sharing this item.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

33 Responses to “Thylacine or Mangy Fox?”

  1. sschaper responds:

    Foxes in Australia? Were they brought there by the English to hunt? Otherwise, so far as I know, the only placental canid-like animals on that continent are the dingos.

  2. Sunny responds:

    NOT implying any judgement here, just a question —

    Wouldn’t the ribs of a badly malnourished animal stick out and give the appearance of lighter-colored stripes? This would be enhanced by the shadowy appearance of the spaces between the ribs.

  3. cmgrace responds:

    Sunny makes a good point.

  4. DARHOP responds:

    Very interesting. You never know. Could be this, could be that. Weren’t Thylacines canids? Or were they considered feline? Trying to learn something here, help me out people. If they were feline I think they were put in the wrong catagory. They look more canid to me.

    Sunny responds:

    Wouldn’t the ribs of a badly malnourished animal stick out and give the appearance of lighter-colored stripes? This would be enhanced by the shadowy appearance of the spaces between the ribs.

    That is a very good question indeed. I am no expert in anything, except maybe shooting pool. But I say your question is very probable.

  5. Sunny responds:

    By the way — I realize that a ribcage could only possibly appear as stripes in an animal with a either a smooth, short coat, or a coat missing altogether (as in mange?).

  6. goobles responds:


    Thylacines are neither feline or canine, they are marsupials (despite looking a lot like dogs). The “small head” and “upright tail” would indicate to me that this isn’t a thylacine. Still sounds a bit unusual nonetheless.

  7. Richard888 responds:

    According to the b/w picture and painting of the Thylacine the animal has black stripes on its back, not on its rib cage. So an animal with stripes on its rib cage is not a good candidate for a Thylacine. Also, the rib cage may not be visible on mangy foxes but may be visible on mangy Dingoes.

  8. kittenz responds:

    Thylacines are neither canid nor felid. They are marsupials, so canids and felids are much more closely related to each other, and to us for that matter, than they are to thylacines.

    Thylacines are generally dog-like in appearance, and most of the published reports describe them as “about the size of an Alsatian” (German Shepherd Dog). In some of the film footage that I have seen the thylacines move in ways that are sometimes graceful and catlike, and other times like kangaroos, moving both hind feet at once. They appear to be semi-plantigrade, and they even raise up on their hind feet like kangaroos at times.

    Since thylacines once occurred in areas from New Guinea to Tasmania, it probable that distinct local races, subspecies, or even separate species existed. Although thylacines have been declared officially extinct, sightings continue to occur.

    Much more information, including photos and film footage, can be found online at The Thylacine Museum.

    I have used the present tense to describe thylacines, because I do not believe that they are extinct.

  9. captiannemo responds:

    Did anyone notice how the Thylocene in the photos and not the illistration is standing?
    It stands flat on it’s feet heels down unlike a fox or a dog or dingo that stand up on the toes or pads of their feet.
    I thought this might be of help in identifing future photos.

  10. Sunny responds:

    And to ask a question from the other side of the coin…

    How much daylight is still in force at 4pm in Australia (I’m guessing quite a lot, as summer is just getting into full swing.)

    The photograph of the Thalacine above (to me, anyway) does appear to have lighter stripes between the darker stripes.

    If an animal was moving through the shadows (or as dusk was falling — or down in a valley, where the light might not be as direct…!), it’s not too big a stretch to think that someone could have seen stripes “on the ribs” when they were in truth just behind the ribcage.

    Bottom line is, I have no clue what these folks saw — these are just meanderings that I can’t quite shake.

  11. DARHOP responds:

    Thanks for the info goobles. See, this is why I come here. I learn something new dang near every day.

    The left hind foot of the Thylacine photo looks like something is wrong with it. Like it’s almost snapped or something. Very weird.

  12. Ayala responds:

    Is there anything in Australia (known animal) that the Thylacine could have mated with and produced an offspring? Just curious. 🙂

  13. squatch-toba responds:

    I believe that foxes were introduced to Australia to control the introduced rabbit population. Playing with Mother Nature! I like Sunny’s idea of the ribs & shadows as possible “stripes”, makes sense, but who knows?

  14. cmgrace responds:

    Wow, thylacines are marsupials? They have a pouch like a kangaroo?

  15. kittenz responds:

    Thylacines have a pouch, but not a pouch like a kangaroo. Thylacines’ pouches open at the back rather that the front of the pouch. That is surely due to thylacines usual gait being quadrupedal rather than bipedal as in the kangaroo.

    A forward-opening pouch would be maladaptive for a quadruped, because foreign objects such as sticks would be apt to be forced into the pouch as the animal moves over terrain. On the other hand, a backward-opening pouch would be maladaptive for a kangaroo, because its joey would be apt to fall out when the kangaroo leaps.

  16. Cryptid Hunt responds:

    They kinda look bigger then foxes

  17. Saint Vitus responds:

    Ayala-I don’t think there is any known animal that could hybridize with a Thylacine.

  18. DARHOP responds:

    Again, thanks for the info kittenz. I have learned a few things here today about Thylacines. I never knew they had pouches like kangaroos do. Nor did I know they hopped like a roo either. Didn’t know they had pouches, and a reverse pouch at that. How kool! I guess I should do some reading on Thylacines. The more you read the more you learn.

    And from the sounds of things. They just might not be extinct. That’s even kooler yet!

  19. cryptidsrus responds:

    Cool, KITTENZ!!!

    I did not know thylacines were marsupials. Thanks once again for the information.

    SUNNY—you do make a good point, I agree, but ultimately until either someone outright photographs the critter or kiils it (hope not) and/or finds it dead, all of it is (of course) speculation.

    To be honest, I had no idea the creature on the first picture was a fox with “mange.” Looked like something else to me.

  20. imamonkey responds:

    thylacines are my favourite cryptids and I believe that they are still out there. As for the description by the man above its doesn’t really sound like a thylacine to me. Usually they are described as being tan in colour with dark strips on the back half of their body. they can range in colours though, light tan and even all black has been reported. For those who are interested there is some very interesting old footage of thylacines on utube.
    DARHOP: as for left hind foot, nothing is wrong with it. just as kangaroos lean back on the legs so can thylacines.

  21. kittenz responds:

    There is a real wealth of information and discussion about thylacines in previous posts here at Cryptomundo too, and also at the excellent site .

  22. cmgrace responds:

    Wow thanks for the info kittenz. I always assumed they were like dogs, because that is what they look like to me. You really can learn something new everyday! 😉

  23. kittenz responds:

    I really don’t think that the fox in the first photo is a fox infested with mange. A mutation occurs that produces very short fur in red foxes. There is a name that is used for a fox with that mutation but I don’t recall the name offhand. Unlike foxes with mange (a pathological skin disease that is cause by mites), the foxes that have this mutation are completely healthy and normal except for the very short coat.

  24. sschaper responds:

    The upright tale is interesting, and reminds me of the reports of that guy a few years back who thought he had detected thylacoleo – the marsupial lion – still alive in a fairly isolated location.

  25. mystery_man responds:

    Yes, the thylacines are indeed marsupials and it points to how interesting the concept of “convergent evolution” is. For those who are not familiar with the term, “convergent evolution” basically means that two completely different animals have adapted in very similar ways to a similar habitat, food type, or biological niche. Nature tends to stick with what works (some animals have not changed much in millions of years), and if a particular form or function is quite successful, it is likely to pop up in different species. It is the reason why dolphins somewhat resemble sharks in appearance, why you have amphibians that look like snakes, and why bats have developed wings like birds (albeit in a radically different way). Many animals have adapted nearly identical “solutions” to the rigors of survival.

    All these animals have separately evolved similar adaptations in response to the same selective pressures and needs of the environment or niche that they occupy. The dolphins and sharks, for instance, because that body shape is the best one for operating in their marine environment. The environment is going to favor the adaptations and mutations that are most conducive to survival. And so you come to the Thylacines.

    Thylacines evolved on an isolated continent, without any dogs (and even if they COULD interbreed with dogs, which they can’t, let’s remember dingoes weren’t introduced until much later.), and without any biological connection to dogs, yet they bear a remarkable physical resemblance largely because they fill the same ecological niche. It really is quite fascinating to think about.

    And notice that I use the present tense when referring to the Thylacine too, because I agree with Kittenz that they are perhaps not extinct yet.

  26. youcantryreachingme responds:

    I might have missed it in the comments, but I wonder if a mangy dog is the answer? There are dog breeds with upright tails. Does anyone know one which grows to about 1 metre?

    The other creature that comes to mind is “Rilla’s Critter” for the stripes on the front half of its body. However, even though it seems to have a small head, its chest appears quite heavy-set, unlike the description of this animal – although mange, malnutrition… they can alter appearances somewhat.

    Someone asked what time it gets dark here. Sunset is a few minutes after 8 pm, and all daylight is gone by about 8:30 at the moment.

    Great info on the thylacine Kittenz! 🙂

  27. youcantryreachingme responds:

    sschaper – I missed your comment when I posted my own. I too thought of thylacoleo. The impression I get of thylacoleo is that it is an oversized possum-like tree dweller that may have pounced down on smaller prey.

    The point is, when brushtail possums walk along on all fours, their tails commonly stick up in the air.

    A second interesting point is that in the earliest fauna records of Queensland, the “Queensland tiger” appears, then suddenly there are no more records in official books. Was this thylacoleo? Was it a prank that slipped into publication? Was there a real animal and if so, is it still there now?

    Back to the report at hand, the most likely choices would have to be dog then dingo. Following that, possibly a cat or fox, and then your less credible creatures like thylacines and thylacoleo.

  28. DavidFredSneakers responds:

    When was the first fox pictures found to be a fox with mange?

  29. DavidFredSneakers responds:

    Between now and my last comment, I’ve done some research. It appears Kittenz was right when suggesting it was an example of a hairlessness mutation, not mange.

  30. kittenz responds:


    Yes, that is what I was referring to. Thanks for posting the link. I had seen it awhile back but had forgotten what the mutation is called (a “Sampson” fox).

    I wonder if animals with this mutation will have a better chance now than in the past, of surviving and producing offspring, due to the warming climate? The Sampson mutation apparently produces a coat without the long shaggy guard hairs that give a red fox its typical appearaance. Maybe this is evolution in action.

  31. cryp-23 responds:

    I say its most likely a dingo with mange.

  32. ninetailedfox responds:

    Mangy FOX!? #%@^&%! Tazzie tiger is a type of ferret. Look at it. Closely. Its a ferret with stripes. (I like weasels, so its a weasel) BTW the box fox is also a type of ferret. How do I know? its a secret.

  33. KristyBeast responds:

    I always thought the Thylacine appeared to look more like a canine in the muzzle as well. It’s snout looked more like a dog than a large cat to me.
    I knew they were marsupials but I didn’t know their pouches were backward. That’s pretty interesting!

    I can’t tell you how badly I want someone to find a real, living Thylacine. =(

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