El Chupacabra Just a Coyote With Mites: Biologist

By Kevin Cokely
|  Monday, Nov 1, 2010  |  Updated 7:39 PM CDT
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A Texas Myth Busted

A biologist at the University of Michigan has debunked the myth of el chupacabra.

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A Texas Myth Busted

Science supports the theory that most reports of the so-called chupacabra are nothing more than mangy coyotes.
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It is the stuff of Texas legend: el chupacabra.

Although sightings of the mythical and elusive creature that supposedly sucks the blood of goats are often reported throughout Texas and beyond, they may be nothing more than sick coyotes -- as many have long suspected.

Barry OConnor, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Michigan says the animals are coyotes infected with Sarcoptes scabiei, a common skin mite often found on dogs and humans.

"They can look pretty ugly if they're not treated," said Southlake veterinarian Dr. Carolyn Key-Isel.

OConnor told Live Science photos of supposed chupacabras are actually of coyotes or dogs with sarcoptic mange infections. He said the animals lose their hair when the mites burrow into their skin. The canines' skin also thickens, their faces swell and their teeth may become more prominent, he told Live Science.

Game wardens with Texas Parks and Wildlife aren't surprised. When they are called to investigate chupacabra sightings, they turn out to be either coyotes or really, really big raccoons.


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