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Texas chupacabra? Nope - just a raccoon having bad hair day

Are blood-thristy chupacabras alive and well in Texas?

This raccoon was thought to be a chupacabra. Biologists who work with urban wildlife have identified it by its structure and having worked with other raccoons with mange.

On April 3 Bubba and Jackie Stock announced they’ve found a chupacabra and has evidence to prove it’s the elusive creature described in myths that date back hundreds of years. It’s even alive and living in a cage in Ratcliffe, Texas.

In the back woods of south Texas, her husband first spotted “this strange animal up sitting up here eating corn," said Jackie Stock. He was able to trap it late Sunday night on March 30.

"He called me to come and look and I said, "Bubba, that looks like a baby chupacabra,'" said Stock.

Chupacabras are mystical creatures that feast on the blood of warm-blooded animals. The name comes from the animal's reported habit of attacking livestock, especially goats. Physical descriptions of the creature vary. It is purportedly a heavy creature, the size of a small bear, with a row of spines reaching from the neck to the base of the tail. Drawings indicate it is a frightening sight, similar to a dragon.

From the photo and video you can see the captured animal is completely hairless, uses its front paws like a monkey to reach food and hang from the wire of the cage. It has large back, sharp teeth and pointed large claws that look almost human. Those who have seen it say it has a ferocious growl no one has heard before. However no farmers reported any problems with goats or other livestock.

"You know, I hunted coons 20 years with dogs, and I ain't never seen anything that look like that right there," said neighbor Arlen Parma. She says one of the big signs it's not a raccoon is its growl. “Coon don't make that noise, or a possum. What makes that noise, I guess a chupacabra does, I don't know," he said.

Wildlife experts have various theories. "The animal in the cage as best I can tell from the view is some form of a small canine," said Brent Ortego, a biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Ortego says a canine can include a coyote, dog or even a fox. He says the animal most likely has mange, which has caused it to lose its hair, but as for a chupacabra, well, he said he thinks otherwise.

If you asked Wild Heart Ranch director Annette King Tucker who runs an animal shelter she would have told you she first saw a similar creature in 2004. It turned out to be a raccoon with a severe case of mange. Mange is caused small spider-like mites that dig into the skin of animals and lives beneath the surface. Like a flea it lives on the host’s blood and causes severe itching plus the hair/fur loss due to an allergic reaction to the saliva of the mite.

Wildlife biologist and a Ph.D. candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA, Laurel Serieys studied a video and photos of the captured animal as part of an exclusive interview with this reporter.

“Although the man in Texas may have never heard a raccoon make those noises, I have trapped numerous raccoons and have heard them make those sounds myself,” replied Serieys who has been studying urban carnivores in the wild for the past eight years, with a focus of mange.

There were several factors that lead her to conclude it was most likely a coon with sarcoptic mange. She eliminated the canid animals (coyotes, foxes, dogs) because of its very dexterous paws that were shown in the video. She sent a photo to show what a paw of a raccoon would look like.

“Additionally, raccoons are avid climbers while most other canids (with the exception of gray foxes) are not, and so it makes sense that the animal would be seen high perched on the platform feeding on food. Raccoons are also omnivores and take advantage of human resources, so would be attracted to human subsidized food sources.”

She concluded that it could be treated at a rehab center and released back into the wild. Mange causes animals to become lethargic, lose their appetite and could kill them due to dehydration and starvation. You can easily see the raccoon’s bones and hanging skin. Hopefully Jackie and Bubba Stock will take it to a medical center where the animal can be nursed back to health.

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