Is there a connection among chupacabras and the various small, vicious, flying monsters that have terrorized unsuspecting people around the globe for decades? Here's what they look like and what they've been up to.
THE FULL MOON rose above the mountain in the cloudless night, shining like a pale yellow lantern into the farmer's bedroom. But that is not what awoke him. It was the chickens. Their panicked cries had awoken him before, and it meant they were under attack. Wild dogs had gotten into the coop, the farmer thought, or perhaps a wolf. He leapt from bed, grabbed his shotgun from the bedroom corner and hurried outside. He checked the gun for cartridges as he jogged barefoot past the long, soft shadows cast by the moonlight toward the chicken coop. The predator will die tonight, he thought, as he pushed open the small door to the coop. He burst in and took aim. But he did not shoot. Instead, he froze, his senses overwhelmed by the sight before him. Several chickens lay dead in the dirt around the clawed feet of a creature the farmer had never seen before. This was no dog, no wolf. It stood on two feet at about the height of a small child. It had dark, scaly skin and a ridge of porcupine-like spines running across its head and down its back. In its short arms ending in sharp claw-like hands, the creature held a chicken to its mouth. It was not eating its prey, but seemed to be sucking the life from it. It turned to face the farmer, its red eyes blazing, and dropped the chicken to the ground. It hissed, baring its large blood-stained fangs. Then it screeched - an unearthly, terrifying noise that drove the farmer backward into the doorway. The creature, with its front claws dangling, hopped like some mutant kangaroo toward the farmer. Dumbstruck, he stumbled backward out of the coop as the creature hopped past him with another deafening shriek. The farmer was knocked to the ground, and he could feel rough, scaly skin of the creature as it passed, and felt the warm, sickening smell of its putrid breath on his face. The creature sprung onto the roof of the coop, spread short, dark, bat-like wings, and with two bounding hops flew away into the darkness. It was only then that the farmer remembered he had his shotgun. He brought it to bear, but it was too late. The creature from hell had disappeared with one last shriek that echoed off the distant mountains.
Although this might sound like some horror story fantasy, it is actually based on the eyewitness accounts and experiences of those who have encountered the enigmatic creature known as el chupacabras - "the goatsucker."
The description, however, also seems to fit a number of other strange creatures that have been seen over the decades - creatures people have identified as gargoyles, the Jersey Devil and the Monkey Man. It's worth examining the similarities and considering whether these all might be sightings of the same mysterious creature.
The now-famous chupacabras first came on the scene, as far as we know, in the summer of 1975 when several farm animals in Puerto Rico were found dead. The bodies had strange puncture-like marks on their necks. The sightings intensified in the 1990s as the chupacabras' appetite seemed to grow. In some cases, farmers reported that literally hundreds of their animals were inexplicably slaughtered. Invariably, the animals were not eaten by any predator, but were horribly mutilated or drained of blood - hence the name, "goatsucker." In 1991, a male dog was found dead, with nothing inside. "It was as if all had been sucked out through the eyes," the report said. "It had empty eye sockets and all the internal organs had disappeared."
For a while, the carnage seemed to be confined to the island of Puerto Rico, but toward the end of the 1990s and into the 2000s, sightings began to be reported on other Caribbean islands, in Mexico, Central America, Chile and even the southern U.S. in Florida, Arizona and Texas. In April-June in Chile of 2002, in fact, it was reported that authorities had even captured the chupacabras, which may have been taken away by people representing the U.S. government.
The descriptions of the creature over this time has remained fairly consistent:
- three to five feet tall
- dark gray facial skin
- coarse hair on the body, and several reports said it has a chameleon-like appearance, with the ability to change from purple to brown to yellow
- black eyes, or glowing orange or red eyes
- a wolf-like or canine nose
- sharp fangs
- short forearms with three-fingered claw-like "hands"
- a row of fins, spikes or quills running down the length of its back
- stands on two powerful-looking hind legs and clawed feet
- often hops on the ground, like a kangaroo, rather than walks (at least one witness claimed it could leap as far as 20 feet in one bound)
- some reported bat-like wings that enable the chupacabras to fly
- it makes a hissing noise that often makes witnesses nauseous
The chupacabras phenomenon continues up to this day, with the recent reports of attacks continuing to come out of South American countries, including Chile and Argentina. In many of these cases, chupacabras - although not seen - was blamed for the deaths of chickens and other farm animals that were mutilated and drained of blood.
Next page: The Jersey Devil and Gargoyles