(pop culture)

The chupacabras (literally “goat sucker”) is a vampirelike creature that began a reign of terror in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Central America in the mid-1990s. Most accounts picture the creature as what might be described as a cross between a bat and a kangaroo. It has hairy arms, glowing red eyes, and bright-colored spine-like appendages that run over the body from the head to the end of the back. Scales, claws, and bat-shaped wings are also common attributes.

The primary victims of the chupacabras have been animals, specifically chickens and other farm animals, including horses, dogs, cats, and most importantly goats. In the anecdotal stories that have spread throughout Latin America, the creature has been described in ways as to associate it with the vampire. It leaves two puncture wounds on the neck of its victims, it hunts at night, it has batlike wings, it sucks blood, and defies the laws of the physical universe. A crucifix holds it at bay.

The quick spread of the chupacabra stories in the press and the popular acceptance of the stories among the public has led various authorities to speak against the reality of the creature. Some veterinarians and other authorities called upon to autopsy the bodies of the victims have commented that they have found no special loss of blood, and report the wounds are consistent with the attack of wild dogs or other predatory animals. Norine Dresser, the primary American scholar who has studied the accounts, has judged the chupacabras as a contemporary legend; that is, a popularly told tale that mixes credible details with preposterous elements (the very elements that make them both newsworthy and entertaining). The stories of the chupacabras arose quickly, a sign of the political/economic anxieties that have affected the whole Caribbean basin.

Between 1995 and 2005, approximately a dozen chupacabra feature films were made, but after a decade, the idea seemed to have largely run its course. Government officials in those countries where the idea attained currency in the popular culture had largely decided that no such creature existed and the press tired of reporting the latest sightings. While belief still exists, the number of reports have markedly declined since the middle of the first decade of the new century. Chupacabras remain the subject of novels, while speculation on their existence has shifted to UFO enthusiasts.


Anaya, R. Curse of the ChupaCabra. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006.
Clark, Jerome, and Loren Coleman. Cryptozoology A to Z. New York, NY: Fireside, 1999. 270 pp.
Corrales, Scott. Chupacabras: And Other Mysteries. Murfreesboro, TN: Greenleaf, 1997. 248 pp.
Downes, Jonathan. The Island of Paradise—Chupacabra, UFO Crash Retrievals, and Accelerated Evolution on the Island of Puerto Rico. Exerter, UK: CFZ Press, 2008.
Dresser, Norine. “Chupacabras: A Contemporary Vampire Invasion.” A paper presented at Dracula ‘97: A Centennial Celebration, Los Angeles, August 14–17, 1997.
Heinsohn, Robert. Chupacabras. AuthorHouse, 2006. 304 pp.

Cihuacoatl see: Mexico, Vampires in

Cihuateteo see: Mexico, Vampires in

Cirque du Freak see Shan, Darren

Clans, Vampire see Vampire: The Eternal Struggle

Club Vampire see: Vampire Fandom: United States

Coatlicue see: Mexico, Vampires in