Mention the word “chupacabra” anywhere online, and you get two reactions:
The wide-eyed nod of the believer, and
The frothing, spluttering, teeth-gnashing of researchers and scientists.
I’ve heard about the strange, bald dog people have seen running around killing livestock, and how it seems to prefer drinking the blood of its victims. I personally don’t see anything too weird about this–there’s stories of sheep-killing dogs that only kill to drink the blood (see the novel Bob, son of Battle, for example). Heck, foxes will butcher an entire coop full of chickens just for the fun and flavor.
So here’s the results of my research.
The first place I ended up was the family in Texas who trapped a weird hairless animal that was eating corn. But if you look at its little hands, and the remnants of silvery hairs all over it, it’s totally a sick little raccoon. And it doesn’t have the jughead that the bigger dog chupacabras do. This theory is talked about here:
Another clue about the animal’s origins can be found in where it was discovered: in a tree. This is a typical place to find a raccoon, but unlikely for a dog or coyote. Furthermore, in a video of the animal, the Ratcliffe chupacabra picks up food with its paws to eat. This behavior is also typical of raccoons. The mysterious critter is currently being fed a diet of corn and cat food, but if the creature truly is a chupacabra, that theory can be easily tested: Put it in a pen with a goat or chicken, and see if it attacks them and sucks out its blood.
The reason that the Ratcliffe chupacabra has been called a chupacabra is not that the mysterious animal’s characteristics match those of the legendary vampire — because they don’t — but instead because those who found it didn’t know what else to call it.
But that still leaves the big nasty dog-thing.
This is the taxidermized dog that Phylis Canion dealt with–it killed a bunch of her chickens, then she found it dead and had it mounted.
Here’s another one that taxidermist in Blanco mounted, and it caused quite a stir:
Phylis Canion sent her specimen around to have its DNA tested.
However, quickly it became clear that the animal was not a dog when a genetic marker identified it as a coyote. Forstner notes, “We got the sequences back, uniquely within coyote there’s an area of the D-loop, which is the area of mitochondrial DNA… it gives us data on things that are closely related… Uniquely in coyotes there’s a deletion of several bases in one section, and another deletion in another area of an additional seven-base block. Turns out that the sequences that came back had those two unique deletions, and did not match any dogs or wolf. It came back with 97 percent confidence that it was Canis latrans, which is the coyote.”
Canion was not happy with the results, so she commissioned a second DNA test at a genetics lab st the University of California at Davis. Essentially, the new test confirmed the findings from the University of Texas.
However, with a slight twist: Canion’s animal turned out to be a hybrid.
A comment on the article pointed me to the Mexican breed Xolo. Otherwise known as the Mexican Hairless dog. And what do you know:
They look suspiciously like the dead animals above, don’t they?
So, probably, what we’re seeing is a strain of hybrid coyote/Mexican hairless dogs, running around killing things the way coyotes do–except they look so weird, nobody knows what they are. And boy, do the experts get MAD when you call them chupacabras. But if they fit the description … why not?