Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Chupacabra Brouhaha

Myths be damned! Don't Mess With Texas!

Today, a story appeared on the front page of the online edition of the Times.
Apparently, a woman down in Texas, along with few ranchers believe they found mythical blood sucking chupacabras in their yards. This woman, as you can see, plans on having the thing mounted and hung on her wall. Damn, those Texans are tough on their mythical chupacabras! We just hope she buried the rest of the sucker, and resisted putting it on a spit, barbecuing and roasting it.

Hmm.... is she sure it isn't a Xolo?
Sure looks like one.

The local media down in Texas also bought into it:
Hmm.....looks like a coyote to me.
And this poor guy thinks he was chased by the mythic character:

Well, I'll tell you, that cat was pretty damned scary!

And apparently CNN ran with it too. But of course, all they had to do was go get a swig of wikiality. This amounts to just a very sad dog story, but oddly, no one in the media thought to check "chupacabra" in wikipedia:

"In July 2004, a rancher near San Antonio killed a hairless dog-like creature, which was attacking his livestock. This creature is now known as the Elmendorf Creature. It was later determined to be a coyote with demodectic or sarcoptic mange. In October 2004, two animals said to resemble the Elmendorf Creature were supposedly observed in the same area. The first was dead, and a local zoologist who was called to identify the animal noticed the second while she was traveling to the location where the first was found. Specimens of the dead animals were studied by biologists in Texas, who found that the creatures were coyotes suffering from very severe cases of mange.[2]

In Coleman, Texas, a farmer named Reggie Lagow caught an animal in a trap he set up after the deaths of a number of his chickens and turkeys. The supposed animal was described as a mix between a hairless dog, a rat and a kangaroo. The animal was provided to Texas Parks and Wildlife in order to determine what species it belonged to, but Lagow reported in a September 17th, 2006, phone interview with John Adolfi, founder of the Lost World Museum, that the "critter was caught on a Tuesday and thrown out in Thursday's trash."

Coyotes are pack animals. Once one got the mites that cause mange, they all got it. I remember as a kid, animals that got mange were often put down because it was seen as incurable or difficult to cure, and the animal would die. A wild animal with mange would be untreatable, and thus, probably die when the mange got to an extreme state.

But in the case of the lady with the head, it looks a Xolo --a hairless Mexican hunting dog.

Hate to say it, but the Times was dogged!


Miss Havisham said...

Actually, coyotes are not pack animals. They are loners. They only pack occasionally for a hunting purpose--but it's rare.

Wolves pack all the time, and rarely are lone. If they are lone it's for good reason.

Kanani said...

Ah, but you're so wrong, Miss Havisham.

Coyotes ARE pack animals, and anyone who has lived on a ranch can tell you this, has seen it and has heard it.

In fact, I see two coyotes pass in front of my house on their way to find food or water. They always travel in 2.

You might want to check your facts here on Audubon Magazine

"Coyotes are primarily pack animals, though loners do exist, especially in populations that have been heavily hunted..."

Mary Witzl said...

Virtually all I know about coyotes is what I read about them in Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer.

When I was growing up, we used to be afraid that they would kill our cats, but fortunately, few ever came close enough to our house. But I have heard reports of coyotes pairing up to catch neighbors' dogs and cats.

Kanani said...

Well, we've increasingly encroached upon wildlife territories with rows and rows of houses. We've made no accomodations for them, so they (quite sensibly) go for whatever food is available.

I've had a few cats eaten by coyotes, and even discovered the carcass of a neighbor's dog. Once you see that, you understand what is meant by "food chain."

Frankly, I was bummed the cats went out this way. But... as many times as they dragged in birds, lizards, gophers, moles and rats, I understand that they understood the food chain theory as well.

Speedcat Hollydale said...

The only real Chupacabra lives with me in Minnesota. His name is Mardy...and I never ever let him out!

Kanani said...

Yeah, well Speedcat, we know what happens when you try to get that pet chupacabra off the foot of your bed.