The chupacabra (goatsucker) is a legendary creature claimed to inhabit the Americas. The origin of the name derives from chupar “to suck” and cabra “goat,” resulting from the creature’s pattern of killing livestock, especially goats, and drinking their blood. The name was coined shortly after the first reports by comedian Silverio Perez.

The origin of the chupacabra may have come from the science fiction film Species, where an eyewitness account of the chupacabra was in Puerto Rico where Madelyne Tolentino described the creature she saw with almost identical features as the character Sil in the movie Species. In her report she stated, “it was a creature that looked like the chupacabra, with spines on its back and all… The resemblance to the chupacabra was really impressive.” She had seen the movie before her report and believed that what was happening in the movie was actually happening in Puerto Rico.

Benjamin Radford, an author and investigator of legends, myths, and monsters, placed the reports into two categories. The Puerto Rico and Latin America reports were where the victims had their blood removed. In the United States, the reports were of mostly dogs and coyotes afflicted with mange.

In 1975 in Moca, pets and animals were found with their blood drained and small circular wounds on the body. It was suspected to be from a Satanic Cult. In March of 1995, eight sheep were found with three puncture wounds on their chest and the blood drained. In August of 1995 the Tolentino report was made.

Descriptions of the chupacabra vary slightly with the most common being reptile with leathery, greenish-gray skin and spines on its back. It is three to four feet high and hops similar to a kangaroo. It has a dog-like face, forked tongue, and large fangs. It will screech when startled and release a sulfuric stench.

A less common description is that it is a breed of wild dog. It is hairless with an unusual spinal ridge, eye sockets, fangs, and claws.

Since the first reports were made numerous other incidents have occurred.

In July 2004, near San Antonio, Texas, a rancher killed a hairless dog that had attacked his livestock. It was given the name the Elmendorf Beast, but DNA tests confirmed it to be a coyote with mange. In October 2004, in the same area, two carcasses were found. They were examined and the results showed them also being coyotes with mange.

In Russia, chupacabras were reported in 2005 to have attacked and drained the blood of 32 turkeys and 30 sheep. In 2006 a chupacabra was reported to attack dozens of birds leaving them drained of blood. On two occasions, the creature had attacked humans, but with no serious injuries.

In Turner, Maine, a local resident described an evil looking creature with fangs that was found dead beside the road. It had apparently been killed by a car and could not be identified. Before it could be examined, the carcass was picked cleaned by scavengers. Several photos were taken of the creature that showed a canine appearance.

In 2007, 300 dead sheep were reported and a possible chupacabra was captured, according to the national Colombia news. Also in 2007 in Cuero, Texas, Phylis Canion found three carcasses on her property. She took photos and the head of one and preserved it in her freezer. After examination of the photos, State Mammologist suggested it was a gray fox, and DNA test of the head revealed it was a coyote.

On an episode of the SyFy channel’s series Fact or Faked in 2011, a video was taken from a dashboard camera of DeWitt County Deputy Brandon Riedel in 2008. It showed a hairless animal with a long snout running in front of Riedel’s vehicle.

In 2009, CNN aired a report showing a close up view of a dead unidentified animal. It was discovered in a barn after it had died from eating rat poison. It was believed to be a mutated coyote. On September 9, 2009 the carcass was sold to the Lost World Museum and has been put on display, according to the Syracuse Post Standard.

In 2010 there were reports of chupacabras being shot and killed. Tests were conducted and they were identified as a coyote-dog hybrid with mange.

On September 17, 2013 an affiliate of Fox News posted on its website two sightings of what was believed to be chupacabras.

Most reports of chupacabras have been determined to be a canine breed with mange.

Image Caption: Illustration of one possible depiction of a chupacabra. Credit: LeCire/Wikipedia (public domain)