As dusk falls over the arid countryside of Northern Mexico, the farmer heads home, leaving his cows, horses and goats snug in their pens. Lurking in the shadows, however, is a hairless gargoyle with long, razor-sharp teeth: the legendary chupacabra. He has picked out his victim for this night: a fat, slow cow. As the farmer turns out the lights in his home, the chupacabra goes to work. In the morning, the farmer will find nothing but a desiccated husk in the stall that once housed his best milking cow.

Since about 1990, legends have grown all over Latin America (particularly Mexico and Puerto Rico) and the United States of the “chupacabra”, (whose name translates from the Spanish as “goat-sucker”) a nocturnal monster that drinks animal blood. “Sightings” of the beast have grown exponentially, and there have even been some photos and videos taken, although definitive proof (such as a live chupacabra in custody) continue to elude the legions of people who claim that their animals have been attacked.

Although eyewitness descriptions vary, most agree that the chupacabra is humanoid or canine in general appearance, although some have described it as reptilian. Skin is gray, scaly and may have sharp spines or quills. It is often, but not always, described with a long snout. In general, they’re smaller than a human, but some describe them as being as large as a bear. They can run very quickly and leap great distances. Some witnesses claim that they have wings and a tail. Naturally, it boasts impressive fangs that allow it to better wound its victims to suck out the blood. Although a chupacabra may sound vaguely like a vampire, it is not considered to be “undead” in the traditional sense.

The myth of the “chupacabra” isn’t as old as many people think. The first sightings and incidents occurred in the early 1990’s in Puerto Rico, but it since has become a firm part of Latin American folklore. It has even made appearances in such pop-culture favorites such as Scooby-doo movies and the X-files television show.

Is the Chupacabra Real? That depends on who you ask. People in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, certainly think so: they blame the chupacabra for the suspicious deaths of more than 150 farm animals in 1995 and several locals claim to have seen it. In 1996, farmers in Calderon, in Northern Mexico, took up axes and rifles and formed vigilante groups to hunt down an alleged chupacabra that had been terrorizing local goats. These are just a few of the scores of chupacabra reports from all over both American continents.

Naysayers consider the chupacabra to be a sort of Latin American Bigfoot. No living or dead chupacabras have ever been found. Zoologists are at a loss to declare what sort of species may be behind the attacks, although some say it may be a sort of large bat. “Photos” of the chupacabra abound on the internet, few of which are even remotely convincing.

Real or not, the chupacabra has entered the realm of myth, folklore, and pop culture, so it seems that it is here to stay. So, be very careful in remote areas at night in Mexico because, you just never know…Have a great June. Until next month, Salud, Dinero, y Amor… y tiempo para disfrutarlos!