Wednesday, July 3, 2013

31 Days of Monsters: Chupacabra

If you live down in the southern US and Mexico, you probably know about this curious critter. Stories started in the mid-1990's in Puerto Rico of goats and chickens being attacked and drained of blood. Thus the name Chupacabra, which means goat-sucker.

Name: Cupacabra

Height: 3 - 4 feet tall

Appearance: There are currently two differing descriptions of the Chupa. Initial descriptions was a 3 - 4 foot tall, bipedal creature with short, quill-like hairs or smooth, scaly skin, large eyes that glowed red, and a row of spines running down its back. Some sightings suggested the ability to fly by membranes under its arms or at least the ability to jump long distances. The other description is of creatures which have been seen much more recently, animals which look like small canines, almost hairless, with excessively large canine teeth.

Threat: Low to moderate. While there are no actual attacks on people reported, the Chupa has been seen to make threatening gestures when disturbed, including hissing and making advances, though it doesn't pursue when people flee.

Sightings are primarily in the south, along the US/Mexico border. Stretching from Florida to California, down into Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Panama, and up into Georgia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. Full sightings are rare, as the creature is expressly nocturnal. More common are the signs of its passing, chickens, goats, and similar small stock animals found dead in the morning, their bodies drained of blood and the only visible wounds being one or two small puncture wounds in the neck. Most sightings occur when someone interrupts it feeding, leading to short, but intense confrontations before it flees into the darkness.

One of the interesting things about the Chupacabra mythos, is that it happened so recently and so quickly. In March of 1995, 8 sheep were found dead, their bodies completely bloodless in Orocovis, Puerto Rico. Over the course of the rest of the year, it was sighted 35 times and was blamed for the death of over 150 animals on the island. Earlier attacks have been attributed to the creature since, but even those don't pre-date the 1980's. Since then sightings and evidence of its passing have spread out, in a pattern very consistent with the expansion of an invasive animal species.

Theories about its origins vary. It has been suggested to be a stranded alien creature, a genetic experiment which escaped from a lab, or even a creature which has always been there and simply been pushed into our backyards through deforestation and the destruction of the rain forests. The canids which have been getting caught most recently and branded as Chupacabras have been genetically tested and most are determined to be coyote hybrids, either with wolves, domestic dogs, or foxes.

Being a more recent and lesser-known cryptid, it hasn't been used as much in movies and books as creatures such as Sasquatch and lake monsters. That is not to say it hasn't been used though. Generally, it is portrayed as the monster, a hideous predator, looking for fresh meat.

Sadly, most works including this creature have been B-movie fare at best. Trying to entertain through gore and through being bad as opposed to trying for real scares or portraying the Chupacabra as anything other than a bloodthirsty beast.

If movies are bad, books are even harder to find, though they are out there. Most of them follow the same ideas as the movies, however, hoping for the same level of entertainment, or basing their hopes of success on other aspects of the story.

So, if you find yourself down south on vacation. It might be a good idea to not wander too far out into the desert for reasons other than the heat, scorpions, venomous snakes, and lack of water. You also might want to bring your pet goats and chickens inside after it gets dark, too.

~ Shaun

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