Chupacabra Chronicles: The Elusive Blood-Sucking Creature

Tales of a mysterious monster that sucks the blood of livestock have spread in Mexico, Puerto Rico (and the rest of South America), and the southwestern United States. It’s called chupacabra – a creature that hides in the shadows with red eyes and a craving for blood.

The term chupacabra, which literally translates to “goat sucker,” may sound funny or playful, but in the regions we mentioned above, it sparks fear, skepticism, and curiosity. With its mysterious origins, conflicting descriptions, and the consistent nature of its telltale attacks, the chupacabra has surpassed urban legends and has become a symbol of the unknown. Get to know this creature as you read along.

What is the Chupacabra?

The chupacabra is a mythical creature that is often discussed in Latin American folklore. A recent addition to the roster of blood-sucking creatures like vampires, it is believed to suck blood and prey on livestock, particularly goats. Anecdotal stories say it has a habit of draining the blood from animals, leaving behind puncture wounds.

Descriptions of the chupacabra vary, but it is often depicted as a small, reptilian creature with spikes or quills along its back. It’s also known to look like an alien, roughly the size of a small bear. In the southwestern United States, chupacabras are depicted as more dog-like.

Reports of chupacabra sightings and attacks on livestock have been circulated in various parts of Latin America and the United States. However, all these reports are anecdotal, and no actual specimens were discovered. Sightings in northern Mexico and the southern United States have been confirmed as canids suffering from mange.

The creature’s origins also spark debate. Some believe it to be a pet left behind by extraterrestrial visitors, looking like the famed “grays” with large oval heads and enormous eyes. Another alien theory suggests that the chupacabra was an alien-animal crossbreed created by scientists at NASA. They say these creatures are a result of escaped experiments gone awry. Another theory proposes a genetically modified vampire bat.

The chupacabra has become a part of popular culture and has been featured in various books, movies, and television shows, often portrayed as a mysterious and menacing entity.

What Does the Chupacabra Look Like?

a sketch of a chupacabra

Descriptions of the chupacabra vary. In Puerto Rico and Hispanic America, it’s often described as a hefty, reptilian creature with an alien-like appearance, about the size of a small bear, and featuring a row of spines from the neck to the base of the tail. In the Southwestern United States, it’s portrayed as more dog-like.

Early reports painted a picture of an upright creature resembling a large reptilian kangaroo with imposing red eyes. Some describe its skin as frog-like, green with mottled specks, while others see a furry lizard with scaly skin. Reports often mention an unpleasant, sulfur-type odor, while others claim the creature was odorless.

Though the bipedal creature usually moves on two legs, it has been observed running on all fours. Some liken it to a kangaroo, using strong hind legs to jump, while others note a more ape-like gait.

While chupacabras were described differently, certain characteristics were consistent in eyewitness accounts. Its distinctive features include an oval-shaped head with glowing, alien-like eyes and long, sharp spines running from the back of its head down the spine to the rump.

The most common depiction of the chupacabra is that of a reptile-like creature with leathery or scaly greenish-gray skin, standing 3 to 4 feet tall and moving in a kangaroo-like manner.

Another prevalent description presents it as a strange breed of wild dog, mostly hairless with a pronounced spinal ridge, distinct eye sockets, fangs, and claws. This description gained prominence in the early 2000s, originating from reports in the Yucatán Peninsula, northern Mexico, and the United States.

The creature is said to drain all of the animal’s blood, sometimes through three holes in the shape of a downwards-pointing triangle or just one or two holes.

How Did the Chupacabra Got its Name

Chupacabras earned its name, which can be translated literally as “goat-sucker,” from the Spanish words “chupar” (meaning “to suck”) and “cabras” (meaning “goats”). The term is used interchangeably as both “chupacabras” and “chupacabra” throughout the Americas.

The creature got its name from Puerto Rican comedian Silverio Pérez, who came up with it in 1995 while discussing the attacks as a radio DJ in San Juan.

Suspected Signs of Chupacabra Activity

Initially, owners of the animal victims thought the chupacabra to be part human, part vampire. Stories about the original chupacabra date back to newspaper accounts from the 1950s.

In fact, the first documented case in North America was in Arizona around 1956, which means this creature has been on the radar of cryptozoologists (scientists studying potentially mythical animals) in North and South America for nearly 70 years.

In 1975, this menacing entity was first introduced into the world of mythical creatures after the brutal farm animal killings in the small town of Moca, Puerto Rico. Its notoriety surged in the 1990s as attacks increased in both frequency and severity, earning it the nickname “el vampiro de Moca” or “the vampire of Moca” in English.

Many trace the tale of the chupacabra back to Madelyne Tolentino, a Puerto Rican woman who described the creature seen outside her window in 1995. Her description became the basis for most other Chupacabra accounts – some stories even depict incidents where hundreds of animals were massacred at once – including chickens, goats, dogs, and ducks.

The first confirmed attack linked to the actual chupacabra took place in March 1995 when eight sheep were found dead in Puerto Rico, each with three puncture wounds in the chest and completely drained of blood.

Initial encounters with this three-foot-tall creature, known for its sharp teeth and fiery eyes, originated in Puerto Rico but quickly spread to Central America and the Southern United States. While it’s predominantly seen in South America, ongoing reports, especially in Chile, indicate its presence in contemporary folklore.

Where Did the Chupacabra Appear?

Initial sightings and related descriptions originated in Puerto Rico in 1995. Since then, reports have extended as far north as Maine, as far south as Chile, and even beyond the Americas into countries like Russia and the Philippines. Incidents were also reported in Oregon, Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Florida, New Mexico, and parts of Brazil and Mexico.

In 1995, a rash of alleged attacks plagued several regions of Puerto Rico – in Canovanas alone, there were several hundred livestock fatalities linked to the chupacabra.

Because of its diverse sightings in regions of Latin America and the United States, the chupacabra is a well-traveled beast. It was at the height of its notoriety in the 1990s, even surpassing Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster.

Initially blamed for attacks on goats, sheep, and other animals, it was said to leave behind lifeless carcasses drained of blood.

Recent Reported Sightings of the Chupacabra

While the chupacabras were famously reported in the ’90s, there were sightings of the creature in recent years:

  • 2023: In Bolivia, a mysterious entity has allegedly been spotted, coinciding with reports of lifeless livestock found drained of blood. Drone footage near Oru city captures a shadowy figure wandering through a field. It was sighted when multiple cows, llamas, and alpacas had just died. Locals speculate a possible chupacabra attack due to the unique neck injuries seen in the carcasses.
  • 2022: Security cameras at the Amarillo Zoo in Texas recorded a perplexing “object,” prompting the city to seek public assistance to identify it. The unusual image, captured around 1:25 a.m. on May 21 within the zoo’s perimeter fence, raises questions about whether it was a nocturnal individual with an odd hat, a large coyote on its hind legs, or perhaps even a chupacabra. Residents of Amarillo are left to ponder the identity of this mysterious creature.
  • 2019: A peculiar entity was observed in the west side corridor of Houston; it was captured on film but remains unidentified. Speculation abounds, with some suggesting a resemblance to the chupacabra.
  • 2019: A video recorded by Mundo Ovni showcased the aftermath of a supposed chicken attack in the Seburuquillo sector of Lares, Puerto Rico.
  • 2014: In Ratcliffe, Texas, a family reported trapping what they believed to be a Chupacabra in a cage.

The Probability of Chupacabra’s Existence

an alien-like illustration of a chupacabra

The chupacabra scare began in late 1995 in Puerto Rico when farmers reported mysterious livestock deaths, marked by two puncture wounds on the carcasses. Soon enough, chupacabra killings were associated with untouched animal carcasses other than puncture wounds that were said to be used for sucking the blood out of the animal.

As news of these killings spread, similar reports emerged from Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and the Southern United States. The common denominator for these areas is that they experience frequent and severe dry seasons.

Notably, during the Mexican and Puerto Rican incidents of 1995 to 1996, both countries were experiencing or dealing with the aftermath of droughts. Investigations during this period revealed heightened violence in these killings, suggesting a potential explanation: wild predators, deprived of their usual prey due to drought, may resort to hunting livestock for survival. This environmental shift could account for the spike in livestock attacks and their increased brutality, driven by hungry predators seeking sustenance to avoid starvation.

This theory is supported with evidence in Benjamin Radford’s book, Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore. In this book, a chart contains a report of ten significant, alleged chupacabra attacks, seven of which had recovered and examined carcasses. Autopsies, in these cases, pointed to various animal attacks supported by animal DNA found on the carcasses.

Radford further demonstrates that for animals who are proven to have fallen victim to regular coyote attacks, it’s not unusual for animal carcasses to be left uneaten, displaying puncture wounds only and minimal signs of attack.

The credibility of the chupacabra’s existence is also questioned because of inconsistent descriptions of the creature. Depending on the reported sighting, the creature is described as having thick skin or fur, wings or no wings, a long tail or no tail, and looking like a bat, a dog, or even an alien. These diverse descriptions raise doubts about whether all sightings are of the same creature.

One plausible explanation is that individuals who have heard the chupacabra from the news may label a strange-looking animal as such. Some scientists, for instance, propose that what many identify as a chupacabra could be a wild or domestic dog affected by mange—a disease causing skin thickening and hair loss.

Also, no actual specimens were discovered, and skeptics proposed that witnesses might have been influenced by the 1995 Hollywood science-fiction horror film Species, featuring a monster with a similar appearance. Yet, sightings persisted throughout the Americas, reaching as far north as the United States.

Another variant of the chupacabra was reported in the same regions. These smaller creatures walked on four feet, had a canine appearance, and were hairless. While actual specimens were presented, biologists identified them as coyotes, dogs, or canine hybrids.

Radford, who spent five years tracking the chupacabra, is considered an expert on the subject. His book concluded that monster sightings were influenced by the 1995 movie Species. Radford attributed these accounts to unreliable eyewitness testimonies, a lack of forensic understanding, and collective hysteria over lost livestock.

Chupacabra: A Mange-Ridden Animal?

Biologists say that mange was the explanation for the chupacabra’s strange appearance. Mange, an infestation of the mite Sarcoptes scabiei, causes canines to have hair loss. It was suggested that these canines turned to attack livestock because the debilitating effects of mange made wild prey harder to catch. Scientists claim that the possible sources for the chupacabra sightings are wild and domestic canines with severe mange.

Mange, a skin disease causing severe hair loss in animals, shares similarities with descriptions given by those who claim to have encountered a chupacabra. Following hair loss due to mange mite bites, exposure to the sun and dehydration can lead to skin retraction and darkening.

Geneticists and wildlife biologists have identified alleged chupacabra carcasses as those of known animal species – usually, dogs with allergic reactions causing hair loss and coyotes with severe cases of sarcoptic mange. The latter gives their skin a gray, scaly appearance, sometimes making the remaining hair look spikey, as noted in previous sightings.

If you come across an animal displaying chupacabra-like features, exercise caution, as severe mange can be highly contagious. While mange is less common in humans, it can potentially be transmitted to people and is known as scabies in humans. Despite reports of drained blood in professionally autopsied animals, they were found to have an adequate amount of blood.

In 2010, biologist Barry O’Connor from the University of Michigan proposed that chupacabra reports in the United States likely involved coyotes afflicted with the Sarcoptes scabies parasite. The symptoms, including sparse fur, thickened skin, and a distinct odor, align with typical chupacabra descriptions. O’Connor suggested that weakened animals might attack livestock, like goats, as it’s easier than pursuing wild prey. Both dogs and coyotes can kill without consuming their prey, often due to inexperience, injury, or challenges during the hunt. The characteristic two puncture marks on the prey’s neck match the canine teeth of predators, a common method used by many carnivores to seize their prey during an attack.

So, Is the Chupacabra Fact or Fiction?

Based on the facts and the studies of a few chupacabra experts, the consensus is that they do not exist. It’s worth noting that some creatures initially labeled as cryptids have turned out to be real species. For instance, Indiana University Bloomington has confirmed at least seven species, once considered cryptids, including the well-known Komodo dragon, giant squid, and kangaroo.

Whether the chupacabra is a tangible creature or a product of imagination and hoaxes, its impact on people remains the same. If someone ultimately proves the existence of chupacabras, the legend surrounding them would likely fade away – to be replaced by scientific analysis. But if these creatures are not yet definitively proven to be non-existent, there will always be believers.

Want to know more about another strange creature? In Ohio, there’s a humanoid frog that like chupacabra, has been a part of the region’s folklore.

Chupacabra FAQs

What does it look like?

The chupacabra is often described as reptile-like with spikes or quills on its back. Eyewitness reports state that the creature is approximately three to four feet tall and is often described as having leathery or scaly, greenish-gray skin with glowing red eyes and sharp spines.

It’s typically seen as walking on hind legs, but some accounts also describe it to be moving on all fours. The chupacabra is also described to have a strong, pungent odor.

However, it’s crucial to note that it is still considered a myth – a creature of folklore – because no scientific evidence supports its existence.

Where is the chupacabra seen?

Purported encounters and sightings of the chupacabra have been reported in different locations, primarily in the Americas. The regions where the cryptid has been reportedly seen include Puerto Rico, Mexico, The United States, and Argentina.