Beast of Bodalog

Unknown Snake or other mystery animal of Wales.

Etymology: After the Bodalog farm where the beast was seen.

Behavior: Nocturnal. Aquatic. Kills sheep by biting them just below the neck close to the sternum.

Distribution: River near Rhayader, Powys, Wales.

Significant sighting: By mid-October 1988, a mystery animal had killed thirty-five sheep on the Bodalog farm near Rhayader. It emerged from a nearby river at night, attacked the sheep, then returned to the river each time.

Present status: Only one series of reports. Possible explanations:

(1) A feral Domestic dog (Canis familiaris) leaves a much messier carcass.

(2) A European otter (Lutra lutra) will not kill a sheep. Its primary food is fishes, supplemented with crustaceans, birds, small mammals, and frogs.

(3) American minks (Mustela vison) have been naturalized in parts of Britain. They are known to kill rabbits, cats, and dogs, but sheep would be too large to tackle.

(4) An unknown species of giant mink, perhaps greater than 2 feet long, that would be large enough to kill a sheep.

(5) Britain's only venomous snake is the European adder (Vipera berus), which only feeds on small animals and stays away from water.

(6) Neither of the nonvenomous snakes— the Grass snake (Natrix natrix) or the European smooth-snake (Coronella austriaca)— are in the habit of attacking sheep.

(7) A large aquatic snake not native to Wales, released by or escaped from a local pet owner.

Sources: Daily Mail (London), October 10, 1988; Karl Shuker, "A Water Vampire," Fate 43 (March 1990): 86-88.

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