chupacabra drawingThe chupacabra, or “goat-sucker” is known to some as a terrifying creature, undiscovered explained by science, and killing/mutilating animals in Miami, Nicaragua, Texas, and Mexico (among other locations – some spreading as far north as Maine, and as far south as Chile). The name “chupacabra” originates from a report of dead goats, discovered in the mid nineties with puncture wounds in their necks with their blood drained…

chupacabraThe appearance of the creature is generally described as a reptile-like, appearing to have leathery or scaly greenish-gray skin and sharp spines or quills running down its back, with a dog or panther-like nose and face, a forked tongue, and large fangs. It is said to hiss and screech when alarmed, as well as leave behind a sulfuric stench. When it screeches, some reports claim that the chupacabra’s eyes glow red which gives the witnesses nausea.

chupacabra2

Another description of Chupacabra, although not as common, describes a strange breed of wild dog. This form is mostly hairless and has a pronounced spinal ridge, unusually pronounced eye sockets, fangs, and claws. It is claimed that this breed might be an example of an unknown dog-like reptile. Unlike conventional predators, the chupacabra is said to drain all of the animal’s blood (and sometimes organs) through a single hole or two holes.

wise county chupacabra, raccoonChupacabra is considered to be an Anomalous Biological Entity (ABE) – being either an alien species or a genetic experiment gone horribly wrong. Whatever the case, those who believe chupacabra is an ABE also believe there is a massive government conspiracy to keep the truth hidden from people.

The photos to the above right are from real people who believe they have found dead chupacabras. Watch the video below. It indicates that county officials and scientists are “baffled” by the creature on video – even though a previous investigation proved the corpse of a similar looking “chupacabra” was that of a coyote.

But how could a coyote ever look like this? How is this creature even possible?

The natural explanation is equally terrifying as the chupacabra – the stuff of nightmares and horror movies… Behold- the Sarcoptic Mange Mite (Sarcoptes scabiei):

Sarcoptes

Sarcoptic Mage Mites are tiny arachnids and parasites to mammals. They have no eyes, are 1/64th of an inch long and are covered with spikes. They inhabit dogs, rabbits, foxes, raccoons, humans, and many other furry animals. They use small suckers on their legs to hold onto their hosts. After mating, female mites burrow into the skin of the host and use their jaws and front legs to cut the skin. They tunnel in the top layer of the skin where the female will lay her eggs.

The larvae will hatch from the eggs in three or four days and immediately crawl out of the burrow onto the surface of the skin, using the host’s hair as shelter. Both larvae and adult mites eat the skin cells from their hosts. Once a larva has molted twice, it will be an adult and will mate on the surface of the host’s skin.

The disease caused by these mites, is called “mange” or “scabies“. The mites contain a substance that causes an allergic reaction in the host’s skin. As a result, the skin becomes very itchy.

When the host scratches itself, it makes wounds that become infected by bacteria. The continuous scratching also causes fur/hair to fall out resulting in bald patches. With severe cases, the animal will look entirely bald. Animals with mange often suffer weight-loss since they are continuously fighting infection, itchiness, and exposed skin.

Look at the top three images of the chupacabra above. The first two are of coyotes, the third is of a raccoon. It is relatively easy for scientists to test this by sampling the creature’s DNA.

hairless bearSo is it an animal with mange, or the mythical chupacabra? You be the judge. Although it would certainly be more exciting to have discovered the remains of a chupacabra, often there are simpler, more mundane explanations for the mysterious. In this case: mangy mammals.

Incidentally, and as a side note, while researching the chupacabra, there are images of hairless bears (image to the right). These are very rare, but look very similar to an animal struck with mange…

UPDATE (March 29, 2011)
Scientific paranormal investigator Benjamin Radford has recently released a new book “Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore“. Radford, with a degree in psychology, says, “there are scientific ways to tell whether or not a given live or dead animal could possibly be an alleged chupacabra, based on their reputed characteristics.”

If you think you’ve seen a chupacabra, Radford shares this checklist “derived from a close analysis of alleged chupacabra discoveries and comparison to known vampires:”

1) Was the animal actually seen attacking other animals?

2) If it was, was it seen or videotaped sucking blood from its victim(s)?

3) Was the suspected chupacabra victim autopsied by a qualified veterinarian or medical pathologist?

4) Did this veterinarian or pathologist conclude that blood had actually been extracted from the animal?

5) Does the suspected chupacabra have a mouth structure that would allow it to suck out blood?

6) Has the chupacabra’s saliva been scientifically tested for anti-coagulant and anaesthetic properties?

7) Has the suspected chupacabra’s digestive tract been examined for specialized vampire structures?

8 ) Has the chupacabra’s stomach contents been examined to determine if it lived on a diet of blood?

9) Have samples of the suspected chupacabra been subjected to DNA sequencing?

10) Has testing of samples of the suspected chupacabra’s skin conclusively ruled out sarcoptic mange?

If you can answer yes to all of the above, you might very well have the world’s first scientifically legit chupacabra!

References:
http://paranormal.about.com/od/chupacabra/Chupacabra.htm
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6116827n
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chupacabra
http://www.skepdic.com/chupa.html