Kentucky Fried Chupacabra

UPDATE!

I was right about the animal’s species. It was a raccoon, but the reason for hair loss was not the scabies mite. It is unknown what caused the hair loss.

There are people spinning hypotheses, and the one I like most is the one that there is some kind of disease causing organism being spread among the regional population of raccoons, perhaps even by some parasite intermediate like ticks. This hair loss pattern is limited to the eastern part of North America, and may be becoming more common in Kentucky.

Surveillance (the term for monitoring a population for diseases and disorders) of raccoons, probably through trap and release will be important to solving this problem. Unless it causes disease in humans, though, grant money will probably be non-existent.

————

Kentucky has its very own Chupacabra! From WLKY (out of Louisville, KY),

Chupacabra Found In Kentucky? – Video – WLKY Louisville.

“I just happened to walk out on the porch and saw something moving in the field and it just looked unusual,” said Mark Cothern.

That strange creature moved closer along Cothern’s farmhouse, causing him to look through binoculars. He even called his wife to look as well. But the more they looked, the more unusual it appeared.

“Well, it’s something strange, so I got my rifle to shoot it, get a closer look. And I’m glad I did, ’cause I don’t know what it is,” he said.

The news story goes on to mention that the Nelson County animal control officer was immediately on the right track in identifying this sad little critter as a raccoon with mange. Call Mulder and Scully… and tell them to cancel their flight.

Let’s take a look at the evidence, shall we?
Chalupacabra?

Looks scary right? Scabrous skin, protruding canine…

Chupacadabra?

The key to easy identification of what animal this really is comes down to the front paws. It is most likely a raccoon based on the above photo.

raccon paw

Those long, rather finger-like front toes are pretty good evidence, but let’s take a look at the head.

raccoon with mange

From this live specimen with a severe case of sarcoptic mange, also called scabies, (obviously not as severe as the Kentucky specimen) shows us what a near hairless raccoon would look like. Not exactly the bandit-masked trouble maker we are all familiar with. The ears are a good match as well. I am willing to call this a raccoon and not a cryptid. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what the the KY Fish and Wildlife agency has to say once they complete the DNA analysis.

canine scabies mite

Like many parasites, the burrowing mite (Sarcoptes scabiei canis) that causes this form of mange can cause disease of different severity in different animals. In domesticated dogs, the disease is typically not severe, but in wild canids it can be severe enough that it can be a cause of death (primarily through encouraging other diseases). This mite can also infect a variety of other mammals including our raccoons, and as anybody who has seen the pictures of shaved animals (or naturally hairless varieties) can attest, it really does make an animal look odd.

Once again, the real monster is S. scabiei, and not the candelabra, I mean chilupa, wait, no, chupacabra.

Further reading:

http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/chupacabra-mystery-monster-101029.html

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/how_global_warming_creates_monsters/

http://alibi.com/index.php?story=33547&scn=news

http://www.skepdic.com/chupa.html

Also listen to the Sept 15, 2010 episode of the MonsterTalk podcast. http://www.skeptic.com/podcasts/monstertalk/episodes2010.html

Primary literature for use in biology classroom:

http://www.jwildlifedis.org/cgi/reprint/40/2/347.pdf

Final thought: Many people commenting on this story have said that the farmer was wrong to shoot something that he was unfamiliar with. As someone who grew up farming, I have to say I actually come down on the side of the farmer. If you have livestock and you see a sick unknown animal in one of your fields, for your livelihood, it is in your best interest to kill it (nature is after all, red in tooth and claw). This parasite can be transmitted to horses, sheep, and other livestock. Furthermore, if you have horses, any potentially burrowing animal is your enemy. Having a horse step in a groundhog hole can be an easy way to lose a very valuable animal.

5 comments on “Kentucky Fried Chupacabra

  1. [...] Kentucky Fried Chupacabra Teaching Sapiens: Kentucky has its very own Chupacabra! From WLKY (out of Louisville, KY), Chupacabra Found In Kentucky? – Video – WLKY Louisville. “I just happened to walk out on the porch and saw something moving in the field and it just looked unusual,” said Mark Cothern. That strange creature moved closer along Cothern’s farmhouse, causing him … – Readmore [...]

  2. Kentucky Fried Chupacabra « Teaching Sapiens…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  3. [...] Mark Cothern. That strange creature moved closer along Cothern’s farmhouse, causing him … – ReadmoreChupacabra poaching in Kentucky: Mark Cothren of Nelson County, Kentucky, shot this innocent [...]

  4. [...] Kentucky Fried Chupacabra Teaching Sapiens: Kentucky has its very own Chupacabra! From WLKY (out of Louisville, KY), Chupacabra Found In Kentucky? – Video – WLKY Louisville. “I just happened to walk out on the porch and saw something moving in the field and it just looked unusual,” said Mark Cothern. That strange creature moved closer along Cothern’s farmhouse, causing him … – Readmore [...]

  5. [...] Mark Cothern. That strange creature moved closer along Cothern’s farmhouse, causing him … – ReadmoreYou may like this related video about Chupacabra Pictures here: Chupacabras killed in Texas [...]

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