Chupacabras are vampire-like creatures that during the 1990s were widely reported to attack domestic animals across Latin America and the Spanish-speaking communities in the United States. The name "chupacabra" literally translates as "goat sucker," a reference to its seeming love of goats and its habit of sucking the blood from its victims. It also refers to a family of nocturnal Puerto Rican birds that steal milk from goats. The chupacabras are quite contemporary creatures, the stories originating suddenly in the mid-1990s in Mexico and Puerto Rico, flowing to adjacent lands through 1995, and peaking in 1996 and 1997 (the centennial of the appearance of Dracula. ) As described by those who claimed to have seen it, the creature combines elements of the vampire with that of Big Foot or the Yeti. It has glowing red eyes, fangs, and long hairy arms. From the head to the bottom of the back, it has bright-colored phosphorescent spine-like appendages. Many reported bat-like wings, and suggested that it might be a cross between a kangaroo and a bat. It left two deep puncture wounds on its victims and a sulfur-like stench. The remnants of the chupacabras attacks were very real and included most frequently goats and smaller animals that one might find on a farm— dogs, cats, chickens, ducks. But the creature has also been known to attack larger animals such as cows and horses. As a whole it did not attack humans. Most frequently reported were the penetrating wounds, as if a set of fangs had gone searching for an artery. Similar to tales of cattle mutilations in the United States, theories about the nature of chupacabras have been as widespread as the reports of their attacks. They have ranged from vampires to aliens, and some have seen the creatures as the result of a failed scientific experiment. Like the cattle mutilations, those animals reportedly attacked and then examined by veterinarians showed no unusual characteristics. They appeared to have died of common predator attacks. Their major veins and artery were not targeted and they were not sucked dry. The chupacabras were quickly dismissed as a modern legend and by 1997 the reports were being treated as humorous anecdotes. By the end of the decade, the wave of interest had died out. While reports continue to emerge, interest has faded. However, at its peak in 1996, even English-speaking newspapers were carrying the reports of the more spectacular attacks.
Dresser, Norine. "Chupacabras: A Contemporary Vampire Invasion." Unpublished paper in the American Religions Collection at Davidson Library, University of California-Santa Barbara, 1997.