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Photo of what may be a chupacabra's corpse.

The chupacabra is a cryptid whose legend originates in Puerto Rico. The word 'chupacabra' literally translates to 'goat-sucker', a name owed to the creature's feeding habits. A particular form of livestock mutilation in Latin America and the southwestern United States has traditionally been attributed to the chupacabra, in which the animal appears to have been completely drained of their blood through a pair of puncture wounds. Though physical descriptions vary, the creature is typically described as a partially or completely hairless coyote-like creature, with an elongated face, and hind legs disproportionately larger than the front. This difference in leg lengths gives the chupacabra a distinctive rocking gait.

The chupacabra of legend is said to be the size of a small bear, almost reptilian in appearance, with a row of spines or quills on its back. It has red eyes which glow when it is startled or frightened, and kangaroo-like feet which allow it to hop up to 20 feet in a single stride. It is also said to leave behind a sulfuric stench.


An artist's rendition of El Chupacabra

Although attacks have been officially reported since 1975, most reported chupacabra sightings are relatively recent. In July of 2004 a rancher in Texas killed a hairless dog-like creature that was attacking his livestock. Though the animal was initially suspected to be a chupacabra, DNA testing concluded it was simply a coyote with severe mange. In the same year, two more carcasses with the same attributes were discovered in the area, and testing proved the same conclusions.

In August of 2005, another rancher by the name of Reggie Lagow caught an animal in traps he set after the deaths of several of his chickens and turkeys. He described it as a mix of a hairless dog, a rat, and a kangaroo. The creature was sent to Texas Parks and Wildlife for identification, but no further information on the creature is available.

In April of 2006 the chupacabra was reported to have been sighted in Russia for the first time. More than 60 animals were killed and drained of their blood by an unknown predator.

In August of 2006 Michelle O'Donnell, a resident of Maine reported a the carcass of an animal that had been struck by a car lying at the side of the road. She described it as an "evil looking" rodent-like animal with fangs, and though it was canine in appearance, it did not resemble any dogs or wild animals known in the area. The carcass was picked clean by scavengers before tests could be conducted.

In August 2007 Phyllis Canion and her neighbors discovered three mysterious carcasses on the edge of her property. She took photos, and preserved the head of one in her freezer. A mammologist named John Young examined the photos taken, and guessed that the creature was a grey fox suffering from severe mange. Later tests on the head proved it to be a coyote, with elongated fangs and a sparse, blueish fur coat.

The following video was captured by the dashboard camera of DeWitt County deputy on August 8, 2008.

In September of 2009 the proprietor of a Texas taxidermy school received a carcass from a former student. The student's cousin had found the creature in his barn, where it had ingested and succumbed to rat poison. Though the taxidermist first made claims that it was the carcass of a chupacabra, the resulting media onslaught and constant phone calls to his small school resulted in a change in story, and he now insists it is simply a mutated coyote.

Likely Explanations

The most likely explanation for recent sightings is simply coyotes with severe mange. Mange is a skin condition that can vary in severity, but causes inflammation and hair loss in infected animals. This accounts for the hairless, almost scaly appearance the chupacabra is said to have, as mangy skin will become very dry and flake away. Malnutrition, a condition very common in coyote populations, will cause mange to rapidly worsen.

The other physical characteristics of the chupacabra, including the elongated face, fangs, and disproportioned legs can be chalked up to a physical, genetic deformity.

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