Chupacabras: The Blood-Sucking Creature from Hell

A gargoyle overlooks Paris
Photo: traumlichtfabrik / Getty Images

Is there a connection among chupacabras and the various small, vicious, flying monsters that have terrorized unsuspecting people around the globe for decades? Here's what they look like and what they've been up to.

THE FULL MOON rose above the mountain in the cloudless night, shining like a pale yellow lantern into the farmer's bedroom. But that is not what awoke him. It was the chickens. Their panicked cries had awoken him before, and it meant they were under attack.

Wild dogs had gotten into the coop, the farmer thought, or perhaps a wolf.

He leapt from bed, grabbed his shotgun from the bedroom corner and hurried outside. He checked the gun for cartridges as he jogged barefoot past the long, soft shadows cast by the moonlight toward the chicken coop. The predator will die tonight, he thought, as he pushed open the small door to the coop. He burst in and took aim.

But he did not shoot. Instead, he froze, his senses overwhelmed by the sight before him. Several chickens lay dead in the dirt around the clawed feet of a creature the farmer had never seen before. This was no dog, no wolf. It stood on two feet at about the height of a small child. It had dark, scaly skin and a ridge of porcupine-like spines running across its head and down its back. In its short arms ending in sharp, claw-like hands, the creature held a chicken to its mouth. It was not eating its prey, but seemed to be sucking the life from it.

It turned to face the farmer, its red eyes blazing, and dropped the chicken to the ground. It hissed, baring its large blood-stained fangs. Then it screeched -- an unearthly, terrifying noise that drove the farmer backward into the doorway. The creature, with its front claws dangling, hopped like some mutant kangaroo toward the farmer.

Dumbstruck, he stumbled backward out of the coop as the creature hopped past him with another deafening shriek. The farmer was knocked to the ground, and he could feel rough, scaly skin of the creature as it passed, and felt the warm, sickening smell of its putrid breath on his face. The creature sprung onto the roof of the coop, spread short, dark, bat-like wings, and with two bounding hops flew away into the darkness.

It was only then that the farmer remembered he had his shotgun. He brought it to bear, but it was too late. The creature from hell had disappeared with one last shriek that echoed off the distant mountains.

Many strange creatures

Although this might sound like some horror story fantasy, it is actually based on the eyewitness accounts and experiences of those who have encountered the enigmatic creature known as el chupacabras -- "the goatsucker."

The description, however, also seems to fit a number of other strange creatures that have been seen over the decades -- creatures people have identified as gargoyles, the Jersey Devil and the Monkey Man. It's worth examining the similarities and considering whether these all might be sightings of the same mysterious creature.

Chupacabras

The now-famous chupacabras first came on the scene, as far as we know, in the summer of 1975 when several farm animals in Puerto Rico were found dead. The bodies had strange puncture-like marks on their necks. The sightings intensified in the 1990s as the chupacabras' appetite seemed to grow. In some cases, farmers reported that literally hundreds of their animals were inexplicably slaughtered. Invariably, the animals were not eaten by any predator, but were horribly mutilated or drained of blood -- hence the name, "goatsucker." In 1991, a male dog was found dead, with nothing inside. "It was as if all had been sucked out through the eyes," the report said. "It had empty eye sockets and all the internal organs had disappeared."

For a while, the carnage seemed to be confined to the island of Puerto Rico, but toward the end of the 1990s and into the 2000s, sightings began to be reported on other Caribbean islands, in Mexico, Central America, Chile and even the southern U.S. in Florida, Arizona and Texas.

In April-June in Chile of 2002, in fact, it was reported that authorities had even captured the chupacabras, which may have been taken away by people representing the U.S. government.

The descriptions of the creature over this time has remained fairly consistent:

  • three to five feet tall
  • dark gray facial skin
  • coarse hair on the body, and several reports said it has a chameleon-like appearance, with the ability to change from purple to brown to yellow
  • black eyes, or glowing orange or red eyes
  • a wolf-like or canine nose
  • sharp fangs
  • short forearms with three-fingered claw-like "hands"
  • a row of fins, spikes or quills running down the length of its back
  • stands on two powerful-looking hind legs and clawed feet
  • often hops on the ground, like a kangaroo, rather than walks (at least one witness claimed it could leap as far as 20 feet in one bound)
  • some reported bat-like wings that enable the chupacabras to fly
  • it makes a hissing noise that often makes witnesses nauseous

The chupacabras phenomenon continues up to this day, with the recent reports of attacks continuing to come out of South American countries, including Chile and Argentina. In many of these cases, chupacabras -- although not seen -- was blamed for the deaths of chickens and other farm animals that were mutilated and drained of blood.

Next page: The Jersey Devil and Gargoyles

The Jersey Devil

The legend of the Jersey Devil dates back to about 1735, by most accounts, in Leeds Point, New Jersey. A Mrs. Leeds, the story goes, upon discovering that she was pregnant for an unlucky thirteenth time, said that the child might just as well be a devil. Folklore says that this prophecy came true, and that Mrs. Leeds gave birth to a horrific creature with a horse's head and bats' wings.

Ever since, the legend goes, the creature has been haunting the pine barrens of New Jersey.

No one takes the legend seriously, of course, but the Jersey Devil has been blamed over the years for a number of mysterious livestock deaths and eerie cries in the darkness. And the first sighting in the 20th century occurred in 1909 when a Pennsylvania postmaster allegedly saw the glowing monster flying over the Delaware river. Less than a month later, the flying creature was spotted by a policeman in Burlington, New Jersey. A few days later, a woman in Philadelphia claimed to have seen a similar monster in her backyard. And that evening it was seen by two more police officers in Salem, New Jersey, and the next night by a fisherman. Note their collective descriptions compared to chupacabras:

  • a ram-like head with curled horns
  • long, thin wings (other accounts reported short wings)
  • four short legs, the hind ones being longer than the forelegs
  • walks on its back legs and holds up two short front legs with paws on them
  • glowing eyes
  • a head like a dog and face like a horse
  • alligator-like skin
  • able to breathe fire
  • about three feet high (some described it as much larger)
  • hoof-like feet
  • one witness described it as looking like a winged kangaroo
  • another called in monkey-like

    There are distinct differences in the descriptions, but there are also many interesting similarities.

    Although the Jersey Devil is alleged to have been seen over the years, none are taken as seriously by researchers as the 1909 sightings.

    Gargoyles and Griffins

    Most of us are familiar with gargoyles only as silent and still (if scary) stone carvings perched high on cathedrals, ancient castles and other stone buildings. And griffins are the mythological creatures having the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. Stuff and nonsense, according to any skeptic. But believe it or not, there have been eyewitness accounts of bizarre creatures that were likened to gargoyles and griffins. And it's hard to dismiss the comparisons to chupacabras. In fact, one witness described chupacabras as being a "gargoylesque creature."

    Apart from mythology, the legend of real griffins dates back to at least the 11th century when Britain's King Charles II allegedly gave a griffin as a gift to his mistress. Another griffin was said to be captured by a scientist who traveled with the great explorer Captain Cook in the 18th century.

    These accounts are not considered to be true, yet there is a more modern report that may be worth noting.

    In 1985, an Englishman named Kevin Chippendale spotted an unknown creature flying near the rooftop of an apartment building. He described it as looking like "a dog with wings" and "having a long muzzle and four legs with what looked like paws." Being of the British culture, he likened it to a griffin -- in fact, the creature has become known as the Brentford Griffin. But we have to wonder if the very same sighting had taken place in Puerto Rico or Chile what the witnesses would call it.

    And gargoyles might not be just stone carvings or lovable Disney characters. In an article for Unknown magazine entitled "We Saw a Gargoyle," Ron Bogacki recounts how he and several other young adults met face to face with a gargoylesque creature. The encounter took place in 1981 in an Elmhurst, Illinois park.

    Hanging out on a summer night around the park's gothic mausoleum, the four teenagers were awestruck by an incredible creature sitting atop the mausoleum's stone wall. They described is as being large -- perhaps 9 feet tall, if standing -- with dark gray, leathery skin, a muscular body with strong arms, golden horns on its head, huge wings and a long curling tail. They were close enough to have smelled its breath, which they described as "full of the stench of decay and sulfur." It soon flapped its wings, flew straight upward and disappeared.

    The description given isn't much like the usual chupacabras, but it's difficult to disregard the depictions of the chupa as also being gargoyle-like. If what these teens saw in the park was a "goatsucker," it was the mother of all chupacabras.

    Next page: The Monkey Man

    The Monkey Man

    Throughout May, 2001, the paranormal news was all abuzz with the sightings and antics of a bizarre creature that was terrorizing villagers in India. It was no laughing matter; a few deaths were attributed to the panic surrounding these sightings. The first attacks took place in East Delhi and soon spread to other cities and villages. The entity was quickly dubbed "Monkey Man" because of its size and simian-like agility.

    On one night alone, on May 14, 50 attacks were reported in East Delhi. The following morning, a pregnant woman fell down a flight of stairs to her death after hearing cries by neighbors that the monkey was coming. Physicians confirmed that those who were attacked were bitten by some kind of animal. And researchers have pointed out that the creature most probably was not a monkey since the Indians were quite familiar with monkeys, which are commonplace there and frequently come into the villages.

    The creature was described as:

    • about four feet tall
    • quite agile, like a monkey (at least one report of a chupacabras said that the face was "simian")
    • sharp, metal-like claws
    • glowing or flaming red eyes

    Unanswered questions

    There are many unanswered questions about all of these monsters, the primary one being: Are any of them real at all? Or are they the product of mass hysteria -- myths fueled by panicked imagination?

    And if they are real, are they merely misidentified animals known to science?

    If we are to take these eyewitness accounts at face value -- or at least consider that they might be at least partially true -- then we have a far more perplexing and unsettling mystery to solve. If the stories are to be believed, what are these creatures?

    Where do they come from and where do they live?

    The similarities raise the possibility that they might be the same or related creature. Their sporadic appearance, bizarre description, fierce attacks and elusive behavior have elicited many theories as to their origin, including genetic mutants, aliens, living dinosaurs, demons and interdimensional beings. Like so many things in the paranormal realm, about all we can do is speculate and wonder.

    What do you think?