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You wake up in the morning and call your dog to come in and eat. He usually comes quickly, but for some reason he isn’t coming today. You wander outside and walk around the corner of your house to see him laying on the ground. Worried, you run up to your beloved pet and examine its neck. Three tell-tale holes can be plainly seen. A pang of guilt wells up inside you as you drop your head in regret – if you had only brought your dog inside for the night, he might not have fallen prey to the Chupacabra.

What is a Chupacabra?

The Chupacabra is a cryptid creature that was brought to the attention of the public in the mid 1990’s. The origin of the creature remains a mystery – though there are certainly many theories that have arisen since the first modern-day sightings. Despite all of these efforts, the Chupacabra still remains a mystery that disappeared almost as suddenly as it came.

Chupacabra model
Chupacabra model

Interestingly enough, the Chupacabra is known to have multiple descriptions regarding its appearance. These descriptions tend to vary depending on location and time period, but they almost always include a description of scaly or spiked skin. Other than these criteria, the rest of the story can be fairly varied. Some Chupacabras have been described as being bipedal. Other creatures were said to have a closer resemblance to dogs and other canines with a bad case of mange. Some sources even described the creature as being similar to a monkey. It is speculated that the majority of the variance in description of the creature is caused by fear and confusion among the eyewitnesses.

Another fascinating feature of the Chupacabra story is that the creature is said to have a bite that leaves three small puncture marks instead of the expected two puncture pattern that most predators leave behind. This leads most people to believe that the Chupacabra is a unique threat that has not been classified under any of the existing animal species in today’s world. Others are skeptic and believe there is a more scientific explanation to the mysterious deaths of the animals and livestock.

How Did the Chupacabra Emerge in Modern Day?

In March of 1995, eight sheep were found dead on the island of Puerto Rico– completely drained of blood. There were puncture wounds visible on their chest area, but the bite marks couldn’t be matched to any known animal. Several other animals were reported as victims during this time period, though when the incidents subsided much of the talk about the strange occurrence was forgotten.

Several months later, however, when August arrived, the strange occurrences began again. Reports suggest that at least 150 animals (though there certainly may be more) were killed in the same strange manner. Concerns over what could be causing the issue grew quickly. Local veterinarians that studied some of the reported cases noticed the same three marks that had been noted in the March attacks. There were three marks, each about as wide as a drinking straw. Additionally, each mark was said to be about three to four inches in length. Many who found their animals dead or came in contact with corpses later reported that all animals appeared to be completely drained of blood.

With so many strange deaths of animals and other livestock that kept surfacing during the second round of attacks, people began to think back to February of 1975 when a similar series of attacks occurred. This was the month that the ‘Vampiro de Moca’ struck and supposedly killed at least fifteen cows, three goats, two geese, and one pig. While these attacks were originally blamed on stray dogs, media began questioning the actual cause after puncture marks were found in the skull of a cow instead of areas that are normally targeted by canines. These attacks were also forgotten because of the short timeline and relatively low number of livestock killed, but were brought back into question when the 1995 attacks arose at alarming numbers.

The Creature is Given a Name and Face

Eventually, the name “Chupacabra” arose to give a name to the creature that was causing so much discomfort and confusion with it’s attacks. The name literally translates to ‘goat sucker’ and was coined to describe the types of animals that were usually victims of these strange attacks.

There were many eyewitnesses that came forward, though many of these accounts were later discredited by skeptics that searched for a more scientific and tangible explanation for the strange phenomenon.

The most famous of all the eyewitnesses was Madelyne Tolentino – the first person to give a report of the creature responsible for the attacks. She gave a description of the creature that was full of visually disturbing details like its bipedal nature, unusually dark eyes, and spikes that could be seen along its back. This sighting didn’t match any known animal on the island and was cause for alarm among the community. However, later comparisons to a creature in a recently released movie would discredit the validity of Tolentino’s testimony.

Madelyne Tolentino’s description of the Chupacabra wouldn’t be the only sighting that reported a strange and often bipedal creature. Witnesses across the island claimed to see many different variations of the creature. One young college student reported seeing a creature about three feet in height with dark eyes the size of eggs, prominent fangs, and spikes that ran from its head to its back. Many other reports categorized the creature as a large ape that could run on two legs while even more reports describe the Chupacabra as jumping on its hind legs similar to the manner in which a kangaroo moves. These reports were often discredited as ‘mis-sightings’ due to fear on the part of the witness when the encountered a creature unexpectedly.

Later on (in the early 2000s) the Chupacabra reports and sightings changed again. Instead of reporting bipedal creatures, many of the sightings were by witnesses who claimed to have encountered a creature that moved much like a canine animal, but had grotesque skin that was often pale and scaly. These reports often differed in that many of the farmers and citizens that encountered the creatures were able to kill them and had a body to offer as evidence. Though many of the recovered ‘Chupacabra’ bodies were eventually analyzed, none of them proved to be anything more than animals that had been afflicted with parasites.

The Problem With Madelyne Tolentino’s Eyewitness Report

Madelyne Tolentino was the first person to actually see the creature that was responsible for the attacks on the livestock of Puerto Rico, but her report was eventually discredited because of the unfortunate coincidence and timeline that may have influenced what she saw.

The issue with Madelyne’s testimony didn’t become evident until skeptic and researcher Benjamin Redford began conducting his own investigation on the mythical creature – which was later published in his book, ‘The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore.’ Redford began interviewing many of the eyewitnesses in the Chupacabra case and was eventually able to trace the reports back to the first witness – Tolentino. Her report was extremely detailed and accurate – in Redford’s opinion there was no way she had fabricated any of the report. Unfortunately, there was one glaring issue that could not be ignored.

In July of 1995, the movie ‘Species’ was released. The film told the tale of an alien-human hybrid that was created by a team of scientists that received a transmission from deep-space. Everything went according to plan until the alien DNA takes over and turns the hybrid, ‘Sil’, into an unstoppable monster. The appearance of Sil, the alien-human hybrid, is disturbingly similar to the appearance of the creature that was described by Tolentino. Redford determined that Tolentino had seen the movie that had been released just two months earlier and even went as far as to compare the Chupacabra to the character ‘Sil.’

While not concrete evidence that the creature was no more than human imagination, it did present a large problem with many of the original testimonies that were given because Tolentino’s reports on the physical appearance of the creature had been read by many people. Because of this, it was difficult to determine whose reports were accurate and whose reports were influenced by Tolentino.

It should be made clear that according to Redford’s report, he does not believe that Tolentino created her description of the Chupacabra as a prank. Rather, he believes that the movie had become so real to Tolentino that when she saw a creature in her yard her mind began to draw connections to the situation she was in and the situations that were portrayed by the movie. It is his suggestion that Tolentino saw what she did because her mind tricked her into believing that the events in the movie, ‘Species’, were unfolding before her.

Some would argue that there are specific characteristics that are different enough in the reports that the witnesses could have been reporting unbiasedly. However, the evidence on the contrary is too overwhelming. There were, however, new reports that arose in the early 2000s that shed some light as to what could be behind the Chupacabra attacks.

The Problem With Sightings After August 1995

Soon after the August attacks, sightings of the mythical Chupacabra were reported across much of South America. However, many of these reports are not as reliable as is necessary to confirm evidence of the existence of a new creature. The problem? Much of the new attention that was given to the ever growing popularity of the Chupacabra was likely due to the popular talk show ‘Christina’ doing a segment on the strange Chupacabra attacks in March of 1996. These reports are likely a combination of mistaken identity and prank calls.

There were, however, some benefits that came from the popularization of the Chupacabra legends. Some of the calls claimed to have found tangible evidence of the existence of the creature – finally shedding some insight into the start of the urban legend.

Possible Explanations For the Chupacabra Attacks

Despite the high number of prank calls that claimed to have spotted a Chupacabra, there were some reports of the creatures that gave important insight into why so many reports continued to pour in. Perhaps even more importantly, reports of farmers who believed they had killed a Chupacabra became popular as well – there was finally tangible evidence to study.

The results of many of the carcasses was disappointing to many pseudoscientists, though enlightening as to how and why the myths of the Chupacabra had emerged in the first place. It was discovered that none of the corpses available for study were new lifeforms. Instead, they were all common predators like dogs, coyotes, and racoons. The confusion that came with people mistaking these animals for Chupacabras came from a bad case of sarcoptic mange.

What is Sarcoptic Mange?

When the bodies of the ‘Chupacabras’ were studied, it became evident that none of the specimens were new lifeforms. They were simply animals that had been afflicted with Sarcoptes scabiei canis – a type of parasite that causes sarcoptic mange (also known as canine scabies). This type of mange is caused by a burrowing mite that digs deep into the skin and causes an allergic reaction. The symptoms of this reaction often disfigure the animal to some degree, manifesting itself in crusting and possible skin damage from the attempts of the afflicted animal to scratch and bite the infected skin.

While it would seem that these animals wouldn’t be too different from the expected form of a canine, the extent that the infection can spread can severely disfigure – and even transform – the appearance of the creature. Specimens that have severe cases often experience immune system suppression, which leaves them vulnerable to other conditions and greatly increases the number of mites that can infect the host. The end result of this process is so severe that not even the farmers who shot the creatures were able to distinguish them from normal predators that might attack their livestock (like coyotes, racoons, etc.) – causing them to think that a Chupacabra was responsible.

What About The Extreme Blood Loss of the Livestock?

While not every carcass that was left behind by the supposed Chupacabra was able to be examined, the majority of the corpses that were examined by veterinarians were later shown to still have some blood remaining in their bodies. The blood loss of the livestock and other animals was significant, but the evidence turned up by a veterinary autopsy provided important answers.

The carcasses that were available for study showed signs of lividity. This occurs when the blood from the animal gathers in the lowest point of the body and begins to thicken. This gives the illusion that a body has been completely drained of blood, but in reality the fluids have simply dried up in an area that isn’t readily visible.

It is the theory of skeptics that most of the animals that were victims of the attacks did still have blood in their systems. However, because their bodies had been found hours after the time of death, the blood had already seeped into the deepest part of the body and thickened. When farmers, ranchers, and other citizens tested the bodies to see what had caused the death, they likely cut into the body and expected to find some blood. However, with the corpse already experiencing lividity, it would have appeared as if all the blood had been sucked out of the animal.

Okay, How About The Bite Marks?

This is perhaps the most concerning factor in all of the killings. The unusual mark of three punctures instead of the expected two is perhaps the strongest case for the existence of the Chupacabra because there are no other known animals that would have a similar bite pattern. Despite this fact, skeptics still argue that there could be a reasonable explanation.

Because two of the bite marks align with the canine teeth of common predators like dogs and coyotes, they argue that it is entirely possible that these are still the creatures responsible for all the kills. They also point out that a dog that was suffering from an extreme case of sarcoptic mange might not have been strong enough to eat the corpse of the animal, which would explain why the creatures died from blood loss and didn’t have any missing flesh.

Skeptics also argue that a creature the size of the fabled Chupacabra would not be able to sustain itself from blood alone. It would be impractical to compare it to the vampire bat because the wounds were too different and the nutrients that came from the blood would not produce enough energy to keep an animal the size of the Chupacabra. They claim that there wouldn’t be enough nutrients or fat for this to be even a remote possibility.

Still, the third puncture mark does leave reasonable doubt that even the skeptics who investigated the Chupacabra can’t explain – but there are many natives of Puerto Rico that believe they may have an answer.

Origins of The Chupacabra Myths

There is much debate over the existence of the Chupacabra and whether it’s stories were inspired by an undiscovered cryptid or a few stray canines suffering from sarcoptic mange. Whatever the doubt, however, there are still too many witness reports to dismiss the attacks as normal occurrences. There are many theories as to what may have caused the rise of the Chupacabra legends.

Secret Scientific Experimentation by The United States

Many who believe in the Chupacabra and are local to Puerto Rico see the creature as a real phenomenon that was caused by the irresponsible – and likely illegal – experimentation by the United States. They point out that the United States conducts research in the El Yunque rainforest, not far from where the August 1995 attacks took place. This theory can’t be entirely discredited, though skeptics do have a counter-theory.

Anti-United States Sentiments Held By Locals

If you were to speak with the natives of Puerto Rico and ask them about their perspective on the United States, you would be more likely to hear negative critiques than praise. As a non-state territory, Puerto Rico doesn’t have full rights but also can’t claim sovereignty – making the United States less than admirable in their eyes. Skeptics propose that the negative feelings displayed towards the States could be a cause for the many Chupacabra sightings that still exist in present day. The idea that the United States could have created a monstrosity that attacked their island is more believable to the local population because of the many other grievances they have with the country.

The Dawn of The Internet Monster Age

There are those who think a more simple explanation could be at hand – namely, the internet. Because of the time period in which these cases came to light, it is quite possible that the internet could be to blame for the Chupacabra. Commercial internet emerged in the late 1980s and by 1995 the internet was fully commercialized in the United States. The new speed at which media and reports could travel and be viewed by the public could have contributed to the way in which the myth was perceived by the public, thus creating the first monster of the internet.

Animals Infected with Sarcoptic Mange

Though the above theories do hold some weight, the most likely of the proposed explanations still remains a case of mistaken identity because of extreme cases of sarcoptic mange. This condition matches the descriptions of the animals that were often reported as being possible Chupacabras in the early 2000s and even have a few similarities to the animals reported in the 1995 attacks.

Additionally, sarcoptic mange would explain why there was no evidence of livestock killed in the attacks being eaten by a known predator. Animals that suffer from extreme cases of sarcoptic mange are usually significantly weakened and unable to hunt prey properly. It is plausible that these animals were too weak to chase their prey down after delivering the fatal bite or simply didn’t have the energy to eat from the carcass after killing it.

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