“Chupacabra” Sighting: Truth Behind the Mythical Beasts

A mythical monster has reared its head again: the chupacabra. A family in Picayune, Mississippi, has captured video of a “chupacabra” recently near their home and posted it online, according to the news station WLOX.

The family soon discovered others had noticed the mysterious animal, including Amanda Denton, who told Jackson’s Clarion-Ledger: “We’ve been running back and forth to our cars because we didn’t want the chupacabra to get us.”

In reality, this odd beast poses no threat to humans—it’s actually a coyote with mange. (See “Chupacabra Science: How Evolution Made a Mythical Monster.”)

Stories of animals that suck the blood of livestock have exploded in Mexico, the U.S. Southwest, and even China since the mid-1990s, when the chupacabra, or chupacabras, was first reported in Puerto Rico (map).

In almost all these cases, the monsters have turned out to be coyotes suffering from very severe cases of mange, a painful, potentially fatal skin disease that can cause the animals’ hair to fall out and skin to shrivel, among other symptoms, National Geographic News reported in 2010. (Related: “‘Balding’ Bears: Mangy Mystery in Florida.”)

For some scientists, this explanation for supposed chupacabras is sufficient. “I don’t think we need to look any further or to think that there’s yet some other explanation for these observations,” Barry OConnor, a University of Michigan entomologist who has studied Sarcoptes scabiei, the parasite that causes mange, said in 2010.

Likewise, wildlife-disease specialist Kevin Keel has seen images of an alleged chupacabra corpse and clearly recognized it as a coyote, but said he could imagine how others might not.

“It still looks like a coyote, just a really sorry excuse for a coyote,” said Keel, of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia.

“I wouldn’t think it’s a chupacabras if I saw it in the woods, but then I’ve been looking at coyotes and foxes with mange for a while. A layperson, however, might be confused as to its identity.”

As for the Mississippi coyote, it’s probably more visible to people because it’s been rummaging for garbage and pet food.

Master Sergeant David Burnette told the Clarion-Ledger that the coyote is “probably sick, weak, and not able to hunt on its own, so it’s going to the nearest food source it can find.”

Tell us: Have you seen a chupacabra? 

Follow Christine Dell’Amore on Twitter and Google+.

Ker Than contributed to this report.

Christine Dell'Amore, environment writer/editor for National Geographic News, has reported from six continents, including Antarctica. She has also written for Smithsonian magazine and the Washington Post. Christine holds a masters degree in journalism with a specialty in environmental reporting from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her book, South Pole, was published in 2012.
  • Ben

    This is nothing other than a misshapen dog.

  • Mridul

    Come to India, you will see same animals in the streets. It is nothing it’s just a diseased dog or a fox.

  • Ima Ryma

    The chupacabra got its name
    From humans who did swear they’d seen
    A spiny creature with the fame
    As killing, blood sucking machine.
    The “monsters” humans think they see,
    Running wild in the countryside,
    Are animals, hurt and sickly,
    Last gasps of living till they died.
    The real monsters are human kind,
    Don’t look so scary till too late.
    These are the monsters of a mind
    To make a life sucked away fate.

    A chupacabra – what it be?
    A sick and mangy coyote.

    • Christine Dell’Amore

      Thanks Ima. I feel bad for these coyotes, they lead such hard lives.

  • Doc_Anchovy

    Just a sick, almost dead, dog.

    Just uneducated, superstitious, humans.

  • Laura

    I have a picture of the creature you described. Looks like a coyote with severe mange. Saw it dead on the side of the road at a stop sign

  • Neil

    people see a hairless dog and what they do… IT”S A CHUPACABRA!!!
    too much superstitious 🙁

  • Travis

    I agree with neil thats just a hairless dog

  • chris

    it looks like a XOLOESCUINCLE & kind of hated …a relationated news i saw on tv … about someone claiming to kill the chupacabra & was actually a XOLOESCUINCLE :/

  • Senad B.

    Hello i got a news today that In Bosnia Herzegowina one Hunter shot a unknown animal thta looks like chupacabra!!!
    Here the link with picture : http://otocani.net/bosanska-otoka/2113-dosad-nevi%C4%91en-ulov-u-bosanskoj-otoci.html

  • Sohail Saha

    Has anyone ever seen a Yeti, or does anybody have a prove???

  • advice

    everybody go to sleep or the cupacabra will get u 🙁


    I saw 3 of them together in 1989… here is the full story

  • Naza

    Thats so incredible!!! i have never seen a chupacabra!!!

  • Joaquin

    I think that this is the real chupacabras, maybe he is not a mythical beast but he is not a normal dog.

  • Judy

    I was at a friends house last night and she showed me an animal she had shot. It was in her hen house. It was definitely a chupacabra, no doubt in my mind. And this is no coyote or dog with mange. These things are real!

  • Cheryl B. Montoya

    Several years ago I saw a feature on Unsolved Mysteries about the chupacabra; up until then I’d never heard of such a thing; I had a pretty good idea that somebody from around here who had also watched Unsolved Mysteries the night before was going to call in with a report of a chupacabra sighting; guess what — somebody did; claimed that a chupacabra had come to a small farm where they lived and attacked some of their chickens; after they became overwhelmed by the success of their hoax, they admitted that the culprit(s) might have been a pack of wild dogs.

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