Chupacabras

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Paranormal EnTTY of the West Indies, South America, and parts of North America.

Etymology: Spanish, "goat-sucker."

Variant names: Canguro ("kangaroo"), Ciguapas (in Dominican Republic), Comeco-gollos ("banana-tree eater"), Conejo ("rabbit"), Gallinejo (contraction of gallina, "chicken," and conejo), Goatsucker, Maboya (Taino/Arawakan, "evil spirit"), Moca vampire, Sacalenguas ("draw tongue," in El Salvador).

Physical description: Height, 4-5 feet. Covered in short, gray fur. Said to have a chameleon-like ability to change color. Skin appears to have darkened spots. Large, round head. Huge, lidless, fiery-red eyes run up to the temples and spread to the sides; white sclera not present. Ears small or absent. Two small nostrils. Lipless mouth. Sharp, protruding fangs. Pointy spikes run from the head down the spine; these may double as wings. Attached to the spikes are fleshy membranes that vary in color from blue to red or purple. Thin arms with three webbed fingers. Red claws. Muscular but thin hind legs. Three clawed toes. No tail.

Behavior: Nocturnal. Moves awkwardly with arms outstretched or by hopping. Said to be able to jump over trees. Kills goats, chickens, sheep, and other farm animals and drinks their blood. Animal victims generally have two or three circular puncture wounds about 0.25-0.5 inches in diameter in the neck or lower jaw; often, one of the wounds punctures the cerebellum. In some cases, organs are said to have been removed.

Tracks: Leaves a trail of slime and rancid meat. Tracks vary; some near Miami were 5 inches long by 4.5 inches wide.

Distribution: Puerto Rico; Dominican Republic; Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nayarit, Veracruz, and Jalisco States, Mexico; Donna and San Antonio, Texas; Miami area, Florida; Tucson, Arizona; New York City; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Boaco and Tolapa, Nicaragua; Costa Rica; El Salvador; Guatemala; Calama, Chile; Varginha and Sorocaba, Sao Paulo State, Brazil; Touloes, Castelo Branco District, Portugal; Valmaseda, in Spain's Basque Country.

Significant sightings: In Moca, Puerto Rico, in

March 1975, something was killing cows, goats, pigs, and geese and draining all their blood. Deep stab or puncture wounds were found on the carcasses, causing the perpetrator to be christened the Moca vampire. Killer snakes and birds were blamed, and the Puerto Rico Agricultural Commission called on the police for a full investigation. On March 25, Juan Muñiz became the first human to be attacked by what he described as a "horrible creature covered in feathers," forcing him to hide behind some bushes. In April, other towns on the island reported animal killings and attacks by a weird bird or doglike animal or unidentified flying object (UFO) aliens, but reports died out after a few more weeks.

In March 1991, another rash of pig, goose, and chicken killings erupted in Lares, Puerto Rico. Residents reported an apelike creature, while officials blamed feral dogs. In June 1991, livestock predation at Aguada was accompanied by reports of banana trees being ripped apart by something the island press dubbed Comecogol-los, a hairy BiGFOO twith glowing eyes.

Eight sheep were found dead with three puncture wounds and drained of blood in Oro-covis, Puerto Rico, in early March 1995.

In the second week of August 1995, Made-lyne Tolentino of Canóvanas, Puerto Rico, was one of the first to see the Chupacabras responsible for a series of about 150 animal deaths in the area. It was about 4 feet tall, dark gray, with skinny arms and legs and apparent burn marks on its abdomen. It seemed to have feathers along its spine.

Mrs. Bernardo Gómez of Caguas, Puerto Rico, on November 15, 1995, saw a hairy, red-eyed beast rip open a bedroom window, destroy a stuffed teddy bear, and leave a puddle of slime and rancid meat on the windowsill.

Residents of San Germán, Puerto Rico, chased a Chupacabras away November 16, 1995, just as it was about to kill three fighting roosters. It had large, almond-shaped eyes, an oval face, and small hands protruding from its shoulders.

On November 28, 1995, a hand- or footprint was found after an attack at Vega Baja, Puerto Rico. It showed 6 fingers or toes.

Chupacabra

Osvaldo Rosado of Guánica, Puerto Rico, claimed that on December 23, 1995, he was grabbed from behind by a gorilla-like animal that gave him a bear hug so tight that wounds appeared on his abdomen.

A Chupacabras killed a pair of sheep at Canó-vanas, Puerto Rico, on January 8, 1996. José Febo saw it sitting in a tamarind tree; when it saw him, it jumped down and ran off like a gazelle.

On March 9, 1996, Ovidio Méndez of Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, was burying a dead and mutilated chicken when he saw a creature 4 feet tall and walking on two legs. It had large fangs, red eyes, pointed ears, and clawlike hands.

About sixty-nine animals—goats and fowl— were killed in Sweetwater, Florida, in March 1996. Teide Carballo saw a dark-brown, monkeylike creature walking on two legs like a hunchback. Dade County officials attributed the attacks to wild dogs.

From March through May 1996, numerous Chupacabras reports were made in Mexico. Teodora Ayala Reyes in a village in Sinaloa State and José Angel Pulido in Tlajomulco de Zuñiga, Jalisco State, both claimed to be cut or bitten by a Chupacabras. By late May, there were forty-six attacks on 300 animals and four people. Mexican Chupacabras were said to be more rodentlike and only 3 feet tall.

Violeta Colorado's dogs cornered a strange animal in Zapotal, Mexico, on May 9, 1996. It hissed weirdly and escaped. The same night, nine sheep were killed nearby and their blood drained.

Fifty animals were found drained of blood on a farm near Utuando, Puerto Rico, on November 20, 1997. Twin triangular perforations appeared on their stomachs.

On May 3, 2000, in Concepción, Chile, Liliana Romero Castillo was awakened by barking dogs and looked out to see a 7-foot, winged hu-manoid in her garden. At 6 pm. the next day, her children found a dead, bloodless dog with two puncture marks at its throat. The Chilean military police removed it shortly afterward.

Some 200 sheep were killed in the area around Calama, Antofagasta Region, Chile, in the first twenty days in May 2000. A half-

human, half-animal shape had been seen. The events were blamed on National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) genetic experiments that got out of control.

On the night of August 28, 2001, a couple were returning home from a church meeting in Calama, Chile, when they saw a small, hairy, gray-and-white figure by the side of the road coming out of the bushes. It was apparently suspended a few inches off the ground. It sped across the road in an oddly rigid manner.

On January 12, 2002, two teenagers near Calama, Chile, reported a 6-foot-tall, dog-headed, football-shaped monster that hopped menacingly toward them. It had three fingers and toes and a tail 2 inches thick.

Present status: Modern reports began quietly around 1974, peaked in 1995 and 1996, and began to decline in frequency in 1997, with a reoccurrence in Chile beginning in 2000. Possible explanations:

(1) Folklore in the making, spread by contagion as stories are made up, misinterpreted, repeated, and embellished.

(2) Ritual killings by practitioners of Santería or youthful delinquents.

(3) Paranormal origins prevail in the popular press: aliens from an unidentified flying object (UFO), genetic experiments gone awry, or black magic.

(4) A freshwater merbeing, suggested by Loren Coleman, based apparently on its clumsy gait or webbed fingers and toes.

(5) The Long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata) feeds on small mammals, but it is not native to Puerto Rico, which has no large wild mammals except for monkeys (see below) and some mongooses introduced to control rats on sugarcane plantations.

(6) Feral Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) could be responsible for some of the livestock depredations.

(7) Predation by escaped Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatto) that had been brought to offshore islands for research purposes, suggested by Juan A. Rivero of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. Fugitive monkeys have spread through the island as a result of an escape at a facility at

La Paragüera in the 1970s. However, these macaques usually eat insects, shoots, fruit, and seeds, with the occasional small animal; even a troop would not attack a goat.

(8) Humberto Cota Gil blamed the False vampire bat (Vampyrum spectrum) for animal attacks in Sinaloa, Mexico, although this bat does not range this far north and limits its prey to birds, other bats, and small rodents.

(9) The Band-winged nightjar (Caprimulgus longirostris), a night-flying, insect-eating bird related to the whippoorwill that ranges from Venezuela to Argentina, was said to have contributed to the sightings because its name in Spanish is chotacabras.

Sources: Salvador Freixedo, Defendámonos de los dioses (Madrid: Editorial Algar, 1984); Scott Corrales, The Chupacabras Diaries: An Unofficial Chronicle of Puerto Rico's Paranormal Predator (Derrick City, Pa.: Samizdat, 1996); Dudley Althaus, "'Goatsucker' Spreading Fear across Mexico," Houston Chronicle, May 12, 1996; Gregory McNamee and Luis Alberto Urrea, "Hellmonkeys from Beyond," Tucson Weekly, May 30-June 5, 1996, http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tw/05-30-96/cover.htm; Scott Corrales, "How Many Goats Can a Goatsucker Suck?" Fortean Times, no. 89 (September 1996): 34-38; Rafael A. Lara Palmeros, "Chupacabras: Puerto Rico's Paranormal Predator," INFO Journal, no. 76 (Autumn 1996): 12-18; Tito Armstrong, The Chupacabra Home Page, 1996-1997, http://www.princeton.edu/~accion/chupa. html; Scott Corrales, Chupacabras and Other Mysteries (Murfreesboro, Tenn.: Greenleaf,

1997); Virgilio Sánchez-Ocejo, Miami Chupacabras (Miami, Fla.: Pharaoh Production, 1997); Scott Corrales, "Night of the Chupacabras," Inexplicata, no. 2 (Winter

1998), at http://www.inexplicata.com/issue2/ night_of_the_chupacabras.html; Jonathan Downes, Only Fools and Goatsuckers (Exeter, England: Center for Fortean Zoology, 1999); Scott Corrales, Chupacabras Rising: The Paranormal Predator Returns (Derrick City, Pa.: Scott Corrales, 2000); Mark Pilkington, "Chupacabras Fever," Fortean Times, no. 140

(December 2000): 22-23; Thomas E. Bullard, "Chupacabras in Perspective," International UFO Reporter 25, no. 4 (Winter 2000-2001): 3-9, 26-30; Virgilio Sanchez-Ocejo, "On the Trail of the Chupacabras," Inexplicata, no. 8 (Spring 2001), at http://www.inexplicata.com/ issue8/on_the_trail.htm; Loren Coleman, Mothman and Other Curious Encounters (New York: Paraview, 2002), pp. 104-110; "The Hopping Horror," Fortean Times, no. 158 (June 2002): 16.

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