Cary Shuker told the Press-Enterprise that he shooed away a hairless creature from near his home in Riverside. He described it as two feet longer “than the biggest coyote you’ve ever seen” and with a tail like a rat.
The creature snarled back at him, according to Shuker.
“It was cussing me out, basically,” he told the newspaper. “I stole its breakfast. It was hunting my cat.”
The Press-Enterprise quoted three residents who say they’ve seen the creature and worry it could kill pets or maybe even attack someone out for a stroll.
But one expert said the creature is certainly not the mythical chupacabras, the “goat sucker” that supposedly stalks animals and drinks their blood.
Loren Coleman, director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Maine, said it was likely a coyote with mange or similar much more common animal.
“DNA results prove these are 100 percent canid (coyotes, foxes, dogs, red wolves), usually with mange,” Coleman said.
Indeed, residents of another Southern California community last year reported chupacabras sightings that turned out to be coyotes with mange. Experts told the local ABC station at the time that coyotes could have been eating rats that had been sickened with poison, which in turn sickened them.
Since mange is contagious, there is concern it could spread to pets that come into contact with the “chupacabras.”
Local wildlife officials agreed that the new sightings in Riverside are not mythical creatures.
“Chupacabras are not a thing,” Andrew Hughan, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told the Press-Enterprise.
Coleman said a DNA test taken from saliva at a kill site could easily solve the “mystery,” but predicted it wouldn’t happen.
“People label dog-like cryptic beasts ‘Chupacabras’ because they love mysteries, and it’s the hip thing to do,” he said.