Chupa…what? The elusive chupacabra
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Are chupacabra sightings on the rise due to suburban sprawl? If so, does that legitimize this cryptid’s existence? Or does it mean the chupacabra was never a proper cryptid to begin with?
What is a chupacabra?
Have you ever thought about how there are animals that seem the product of an evolutionary hiccup? Examples of animals that blur the line between taxonomic classes come to mind. We’re looking at you, duck-billed platypus, armadillo, bat, and pangolin. And I believe we can add the chupacabra to the list.
Pronounced (chew•pah•cah•brah), the creature is legendary in Latin America. Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Southwestern United States seem to be particular hotbeds of activity.
Cryptid or taxonomic anomoly?
The earliest documented chupacabra sightings occurred in the mid-1990s. This makes the chupacabra a somewhat recent addition to the world of cryptids. But what is a cryptid? Cryptids are creatures which some of us believe to exist, but whose existence is not proven by hard evidence. Some examples of popular cryptids include the Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, the skunk ape, and the Jersey devil.
Translated from Spanish, chupacabra means “goat sucker.” It probably sounds cuter in English. The name is because its victims tend to be smaller livestock, such as goats and sheep. Alleged chupacabra victims have one thing in common: they’ve had their blood drained through three puncture wounds to the chest. These puncture wounds are large enough in circumference to push an adult finger into. Keep that in mind.
Above all else, the chupacabra is a bloodsucker like a lamprey, tick, flea, or leech. Physically, it has more in common with the oxpecker, vampire finch, and vampire bat. The oxpecker and vampire finch are birds that puncture their prey with their beaks and then drink the victim’s blood. The vampire bat, a mammal, uses its sharp teeth to slice open its victims and then laps up the blood like a kitten with a warm saucer of milk.
Similar to the duck-billed platypus and the bat, the chupacabra stands on a bridge between being avian (bird) or mammal. Most sightings indicate the chupacabra is a mash-up of both.
Sightings put the chupacabra at around 5 feet tall when standing on its hind legs. And powerful hind legs they are.
Be it dog or bird?
Skeptics comment that the sightings of the hairless chupacabra are actually sightings of dogs with mange. They might not be wrong. Just about all the photos online are of dogs with mange.
Categorizing the creatures in these shoddy “evidence” photos as chupacabra ignores the question roaring in the room. What about the three large puncture wounds to the chest? These wounds could not have been rendered by any dog as we know it. Casting further suspicion on these photos is the fact that the chupacabra is a nocturnal beast. Most “evidence” photos tend to be of the daytime variety.
So is the chupacabra a bird?
Enter the cassowary, oft-labeled “the world’s most dangerous bird.” Standing at roughly six and a half feet tall and weighing in at around 160 pounds, the cassowary is a large, squat bird similar to an emu or ostrich. Existing mainly on a diet of fruit, the cassowary might seem an unlikely candidate for comparison with the bloodsucking chupacabra. However, the similarity between the two lies not in diet but in physicality.
Sightings put the chupacabra at around 5 feet tall when standing on its hind legs. And powerful hind legs they are. Many reports include the chupacabra’s ability to leap and bound about like a kangaroo.
Throw in a thirst for blood like that of the vampire finch, oxpecker, or vampire bat and—voilà—you have the chupacabra.
Like the emu and ostrich, the cassowary’s legs are incredibly strong, and here is where its potential to inflict mortal damage begins. The legs end with three long, dagger-like claws.
By nature a shy, mellow, and solitary creature, when the cassowary is cornered or agitated, the switch is flipped and it’s game on. The large bird leaps up and throws its talons at its antagonizer. The powerful strike can disembowel a human in an instant.
A mashup of different creatures thrown into one
Earlier I mentioned the chupacabra stands on a bridge between bird and mammal, and exists as a mash-up of both; well the bird would be the cassowary and the mammal would be the kangaroo. Throw in a thirst for blood like that of the vampire finch, oxpecker, or vampire bat and—voilà—you have the chupacabra.
Reports often contain descriptions of the nocturnal chupacabra as hairless, with spines along its backbone and large red eyes. The spines and hairlessness are a throwback to more avian/reptilian form (perhaps prehistoric). The eyes are not red but reflect as red at night—just like an alligator’s. One does not need to stretch the imagination much to grasp the plausibility of the chupacabra’s existence.
Chupacabra sightings in the suburbs
In the beginning, I mentioned that I thought the chupacabra was incorrectly classified as a cryptid. Here’s why: as we move through this millennium the human population expands not only in numbers but also in landmass occupied. Inch-by-inch we encroach, usurp, and inhabit which forces encounters with species known and yet known.
A prime example is the Bili ape (a.k.a. the Bondo mystery ape). Around the same time as the first chupacabra sightings, a new species of ape once thought more legend than reality was being “discovered” in the Congo by the western world. The Bili ape resembles a chimpanzee that is about the size of a gorilla (standing around 5.5 feet). It has characteristics of both the chimp and gorilla, but is clearly neither. The locals call the mystery ape a “lion killer.”
Animals robbed of the land that was their territory now make their way into suburban and urban centers on a more and more common basis. And this will only increase.
I believe that we will come to realize that many species now considered creatures of mystery, myth or lore will be proven real before they fall quickly into extinction—and I believe the chupacabra is one such species.
For more cryptid stories, stream paranormal podcast episodes like Filipino Folklore: Manananggal, Engkanto, and Duwende, Oh My!, A Traveling Home for Wayward Haunted Dolls, The House of Octagons, The Weirder The Better, Horror in Massachusetts, What Bit Me?, Something’s Lurking in Vermont, Charlotte is spookier than you thought, Is the Windigo real?, What is a Pukwudgie? or Pukwudgies, Goatman, and Shadow People. Do you have a chupacabra sighting or another cryptid story? If so, we’d love to hear it! Submit your story and you could star in the next episode of Homespun Haints!