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What is the Chupacabra, Really? Facts, History, & Legends Explained


The chupacabra has entered the common language, but what is a chupacabra? Is it an urban legend or real? All these questions and more answered in this post!

The following article is dedicated to one of the most horrific and spooky creatures that have ever existed (either in nature or in the human imagination, but we’ll get to that later). 

What is the chupacabra? Is the chupacabra real or not? What does it look like?

The answers to these questions and many more facts about the chupacabra can be found below in this post, so stay with us!

What Is the Chupacabra, Anyway?

The name chupacabra comes from Spanish and literally means “goat sucker.” Just from this short statement, it is easy to draw conclusions that this creature preys on cattle and sucks its blood.

Before I go into more detail and start describing its horrendous look and ghastly deeds, let me save you from the nightmares with a spoiler. Scientists, in general, agree that the chupacabra does not exist and is nothing more than an urban legend.

The image of the chupacabra deeply varies in the numerous descriptions of the eyewitnesses. Some claim that it is a four-foot-tall bipedal creature with long claws and spikes all over its back. If you have a bad imagination, just try to picture a mix of kangaroo and reptile on steroids. Others say that the chupacabra looks like a huge hairless dog with a pronounced backbone and long, muscular legs.

Chupacabra rendering image
One version of a chupacabra rendering. Taken by Wikimedia Commons user Shalom. [CC BY-SA 3.0].

Even though people did not reach an agreement on its description, everybody unanimously admits that the chupacabra kills livestock and drains its blood through two or three holes in a vampiric manner.

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History of the Chupacabra

The first mentions of the chupacabra occurred in Puerto Rico in 1995. Locals allegedly started discovering drained bodies of chickens, sheep, and goats with mysterious holes in them. The first person who claims to have seen the creature responsible for the slaughter presented herself the same year. It was Madelyne Tolentino, who lived in Canovanas, and she described the creature as one that “…had dark eyes that went up the temples and spread around the sides; it was a biped approximately four-feet tall that had thin arms and legs with three fingers or toes at the end of each.”

As soon as the press covered this story, the popularity of the chupacabra started to increase dramatically. New cases were reported from many South American countries, such as Argentina, Colombia, and Panama, as well as in Mexico and the United States. The look of the creature also changed depending on where the attacks took place.

At the beginning of the 2000s, some bodies of chupacabras were even reportedly found in the US, so from that time, scientists had some material to work with. Most of the found chupacabra bodies have proven to be coyotes after DNA tests, with the few exceptions that were dogs, raccoons, and even one dried fish!

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Chupacabra Demystified

The person who probably did the most to shed the light on the secret of this mysterious animal was Benjamin Radford. He spent five years of his life collecting evidence, talking to eyewitnesses and simply doing all possible research to either disprove the story as an urban legend or confirm the existence of a bloodthirsty creature.

Radford claimed that those weird-looking creatures were animals suffering from the sarcoptic mange, a disease that is caused by mites. Infected animals are prone to hair loss and usually have irritated and inflamed skin, which can cause them to look a bit monstrous.

Ok, but what about all these cattle that were killed by the chupacabra?

There is an explanation for this, as well. First of all, it is pretty common for coyotes to consume livestock; however, for a sick animal, it is even more likely, as it is much easier to attack a domestic animal instead of hunting for wild prey.

Autopsies have also shown that the reported dead animals were actually not drained of blood and had a normal blood level. As for the vampire-like bite marks, it is agreed that there are cases of dogs biting another animal and leaving it to die without causing any visible injuries.

That leaves us with Madelyne Tolentino, the first person who saw the mythical chupacabra in the flesh. 

A monster that she described had a very close resemblance to the one from the sci-fi horror Species that came out in theaters the same year. Tolentino confirmed that she had seen this movie a few weeks before portraying the chupacabra in her conversation with Radford. This means that the look of the monster could have been inspired from the movie.

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Even without the help of the gang at MythBusters, a few things do not converge if we look at the case of the chupacabra logically. For the species to reproduce, especially across the whole of South America, there should be an adequate amount of specimens, which would not go unnoticed, if they are of the size a large dog (and also needs to constantly kill domestic animals to survive).

That’s it for today, and thank you so much for reading! I hope this article has helped clear up the chupacabra and its mysterious story. Got any questions, feedback, or other points we should add about the legend of the chupacabra or spooky details to discuss about this bloodthirsty goat sucker? Let us know in the comment area below, and thanks for reading!

Mariia Kislitsyna
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Mariia Kislitsyna
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