Are the strange creatures found around Cuero the legendary Chupacabra?

A look at the origins and theories of the cryptid known to prey on livestock.

By Kristen CabreraNovember 1, 2023 2:32 pm,

There are some creatures we make a point to avoid, and then there are some who remain a mystery to us. 

Of the Texas legends and stories passed down through generations, the story of the Chupacabra is a relatively new one. But what is a Chupacabra?

“The literal translation is ‘goat-sucker,’” says Ayden Castellanos, host of the podcast, Susto. “It’s this creature that is said to suck the blood of farm animals. And some may go as far as to say that it will attack humans, as well.”

» RELATED: ‘Susto’ podcast highlights and preserves the spooky folk tales of South Texas and beyond

The stories of mutilated and blood-drained livestock started in Puerto Rico and migrated along with settlers to Mexico, Texas and beyond. Sightings of the Chupacabra in the state have mainly been within the last century and as recently as 2022 in Amarillo

There is one place in Texas once known as the “Chupacabra Capital of the World”: Cuero, TX, in DeWitt County – a town just south of Lockhart and east of San Antonio.

Mayor Sara Post-Meyer says Cuero’s old nickname has been replaced by others.

DeWitt County was designated ‘Wildflower Capital of Texas’ by the Texas Legislature because there are close to 3,000 different species of wildflowers,” Post-Meyer said.

But behind these picturesque ranch lands, there are curious creatures roaming. Just ask rancher Phylis Canion – she has one stuffed and displayed in her living room.

The first time I saw it, we had just gotten back from Africa,” she said. “And, you know, you see everything in Africa. And then I come home and, oh my God, the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen was right here on our ranch in Texas.

Kristen Cabrera / Texas Standard

Phylis Canion stands next to the taxidermied body of a creature thought to be a Chupacabra on display in her living room on her ranch in Cuero, TX.

In 2007 the strange creature virtually landed on her doorstep, as road kill.

“I drug it out of the road because I didn’t want anybody driving over it and I laid it on the feed sack and took a picture. And as they said, it went viral,” she says.

The beast on display is hairless, with black leathery skin, canine features and bright blue eyes. The legs in the back are longer than the front, giving it an unnatural arch and its lower jaw is much shorter than its snout. 

About a year later, another sighting in DeWitt County would go viral.

Corporal Brandon Riedel, of the sheriff department, caught a creature on his dashcam running along a fence line. The video shows a small, black canine-type animal. It looks smaller but similar to the one Canion encountered, and both look large enough to take out a goat.

Domino Perez says there’s a reason the Chupacabra brings up the imagery of a dog.

The symbolism in the Chupacabra is actually quite powerful,” she says.

Perez is professor in the Department of English and the Center for Mexican American studies at the University of Texas at Austin. 

The way that men often get characterized as dogs and that, you know, that idea of like sucking you dry either emotionally, physically, sexually…,” Perez said. “So don’t go out at night where you might encounter some dog that’s going to do this to you and leave you.”

» MORE: We’re Tracking Texas Cryptids, from Chupacabra to Bigfoot

The canine features of a Chupacabra really depend on who you talk to. Xavier Garza is the author and illustrator of the book “Creepy Creatures and Other Cucuys.”

I tell people to some, the Chupacabra walks on two legs, is a green alien from outer space that drinks the blood of goats,” Garza said. “It has like almost a half human/half creature type of appearance to it.”

Perez has a theory about the genesis of this alien appearance.

I think they can be a reflection of the anxiety about immigration or about the anxiety, again, of the alien – the foreign coming into a community and changing it in some way,” Perez said.

Image courtesy Monica Gallagher/

The worry of community integrity is prevalent throughout history. A direct line can be drawn to the lessons learned from Spanish conquistadors and Montezuma. Fear of the unknown or the stranger can be seen in folklore as well, mixed with the cautionary tales warning children to obey their parents and everyone to just stay home when it’s dark.

Garza has written about both versions of the Chupacabra, though for him one is more recent.

“And this goes back to that video that they caught of an alleged Chupacabra being chased by a patrol car. And now all of a sudden, Chupacabras looked like some kind of hairless monster dog,” Garza said.

He also remembers the one Phylis Canion found on her property.

Before taking it to the taxidermist, she collected DNA specimens and sent them to multiple labs. The results came back virtually the same.

It’s, on the paternal side, Mexican Wolf and on the maternal side it is coyote, right? So it’s like, how do we have coyote and wolf mixed?,” Canion said.

Though it’s uncommon, wolves and coyotes can and have bred in the wild. But they don’t look like the creatures captured on the patrol cam or found on Canion’s ranch. For her, there are still many questions left unanswered. 

Mainly, why does it look the way it does? Is this a new type of canine? And if so, why couldn’t it be the Chupacabra?

Overall both she and even Post-Meyer came to the same conclusion as Garza.

“Hey, if people want to believe that it’s the Chupacabra, it’s the Chupacabra,” Garza said.

For some, seeing is believing.

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