El Chupacabra: Beware of the Dog by Carlyn Beccia

Hello Frog on a Blog readers! With Halloween just around the corner, I decided it was the perfect time to feature something a little different today. Carlyn Beccia, author of MONSTROUS: The Lore, Gore, and Science behind your Favorite Monsters (a gorgeous nonfiction picture book for ages 9-14, which was released just last week) is here to share the spooky history and science behind el Chupacabra, a mysterious dog-like creature known throughout Puerto Rico and beyond. Read on. If you dare!!!

El Chupacabra: Beware of the Dog

by Carlyn Beccia

We are taught from an early age – don’t approach scary looking dogs, especially if we don’t know what kind of dog it is. In MONSTROUS: The Lore, Gore, and Science behind your Favorite Monsters I wrote about several cryptids – creatures whose existence have not been proven by the scientific community. Although no one seems to ever get a picture of Bigfoot, the Kraken or the Loch ness monster, there is one monster that is oddly not camera shy. Meet the legendary el Chupacabra.

Is this the legendary monster or some other cryptid?   

The Chupacabra was first sighted in Puerto Rico in the 70’s with a wave of sightings then reoccurring in the late 1990s. During this time, livestock throughout Puerto Rico was found with its last drop of blood drained from its carcass. These Chupacabra or “goat-sucker” attacks caused panic with local residents who claimed a vampire was feeding on their livestock. Although descriptions have varied, most describe a hairless, alien-like monster about 4-5 feet tall with spikes going down its back and glowing red eyes.

A pet only an alien could love….

Many believe this beast is a secret government project gone horribly wrong – possibly an escaped group of rhesus monkeys from Puerto Rico’s Monkey Island. Others have theorized the creature is the lost pet of aliens.

Illustration of the Chupacabra from MONSTROUS: The Lore, Gore, and Science behind your Favorite Monsters

Several people got photos of this monster which begs the question; How could so many people be taking pictures of the same ugly doglike creature? The answer may be found in science…..

I am so ugly….I am kind of cute

The Science behind the Chupacabra

The science community has a few theories to explain the legendary Chupacabra. One theory is that this monster is actually a manmade one. The Chupacabra could be a hybrid species created from inbreeding wolves, coyotes and dogs. This theory was confirmed in 2008 when History Channel’s MonsterQuest ran DNA analysis on a suspected Chupacabra. Their tests found a creature with a mix of chromosomes shared by coyotes and wolves.

Another and even more plausible theory is that these creatures are really coyotes suffering from Sarcoptic mange – an inflammatory skin condition caused by the itch-inducing mite Sarcoptes scabiei. Wolves, dogs, and coyotes infected with Sarcoptes scabiei will have extreme hair loss, skin shriveling and constricted blood vessels to the point of life-threatening fatigue. And while normally a coyote or wolf will have no problems hunting prey, once infected with mange, coyotes may choose to go after easier meals….such as livestock.

Sarcoptes scabiei, scabies mite.
This parasite also infects humans causing the itchy rash known as scabies. Because humans have evolved with Sarcoptes scabiei the infection is not life threatening in people.

How to Survive the Chupacabra

In MONSTROUS: The Lore, Gore, and Science behind your Favorite Monsters I gave readers several tips on how to survive a werewolf attack. Fortunately, these tips can also be used with the Chupacabra because this monster most likely has canine ancestry.

Never look a Werewolf or Chupucabra in the eye. It is seen as an act of aggression.

You should also remember the signs that an angry werewolf, dog, or wolf is about to attack. Here is a helpful graphic from the book.

Werewolves, dogs, wolves….Chupacabras. They all use similar body language to communicate their displeasure.

You can learn more about the science and origins of other monsters in MONSTROUS: The Lore, Gore, and Science behind your Favorite Monsters by Carlyn Beccia.


Carlyn Beccia (pronounced Betcha) is an author, illustrator and graphic designer with blood type B+ (in case any vampires are reading this). Beccia’s children’s books, including The Raucous Royals, I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat, and They Lost Their Heads have won numerous awards, including the Golden Kite Honor, the International Reading Association’s Children’s and Young Adult Book Award, and the Cybil Award. If you would like to know what she has in her zombie preparedness kit, visit her at www.CarlynBeccia.com or follow her on instagram.com/carlynbeccia.