They roam in the dark of night searching for prey.
Sometimes they are lizard creatures, sometimes spiny and two-legged and other times they skulk about on all fours.
Monsters, anyway you shape them, the chupacabra is out there, sort of.
Anyone who has spent any time in the Southwest inevitably hears of the chupacabra, often from natives who sometimes still have a fear of the nebulous creature that follows them into adulthood.
Perhaps because the chupacabra is such a sketchy creature, its legend has almost become a catchall for the unexplained and a quick answer for the unidentified.
Spotted from the U.S. to Russia, recent reports place the blood sucking mythological critters in the Houston area combing through back yards, presumably in search of dastardly mischief.
And it may just be the absolute most attention mangy mutts have ever received.
That’s right, mangy mutts — literally.
Though the legend of the chupacabra is one thing, it appears real creatures have come to assume its identity.
Looking like a hairless zombie dog from a video game, photos and footage abound, there are even specimens, killed through various means, which have been turned over for verification.
After testing and examination, the specimens and photos of the elusive “chupacabra” have turned out to be canines with a fair degree of consistency and not just canines, but canines with mange.
Succumbing to the skin ailment in a wicked way, coyotes, wolves and foxes become hairless, shriveled and leathery when stricken with mange, giving them a definite monstrous and otherworldly look.
It’s no wonder when one of these wild dogs wanders near people — its teeth protruding ominously, eyes bulging and its body looking malformed and downright spooky — it gets credit for being a monster.
More times than not, however, its just a very sick pooch, wild though it may be.
All dogs, along with a slew of other animals, are susceptible to mange, a reaction to a skin mite that causes irritation in humans but is usually manageable. Dog’s bodies, though, aren’t as adept at fighting back against the mite and reaction it causes.
There is a range of treatments available for pets, which can ease the discomfort and eliminate the mites that caused it.
But when it comes to wild dogs, which are highly unlikely to receive treatment, they are doomed to have an even harder time overcoming it.
Eventually, particularly in wild dogs or dogs suffering other health conditions, the more severe cases of mange can move into a dog’s system and could lead to death.
As if losing their hair, itching, being ugly, tired and maybe dying weren’t enough, the poor pups get called a chupacabra and have their pictures circulated around the world on top of everything else.
So the next time you spot a chupacabra, take pause and consider the monster’s feelings for a minute, since it would probably rather have a good long scratch than terrorize the neighborhood anyway.
Sharna Johnson is a writer who is always searching for ponies. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at: www.insearchofponies.blogspot.com