Tatzelwurm

The tatzelwurm (German for “worm with claws”) has been reported for at least two centuries and possibly longer, mostly (though not entirely) in the Swiss and Austrian Alps. Although unrecognized by zoology, figures in a number of sighting reports in the Alps and in one dubious photograph. Aside from vague folk traditions of a mountain-dwelling dragon with a catlike head and spiked ridges along its back, the tatzelwurm is theorized to be an unrecognized variety of otter, some theorists have suggested it is an unrecognized species of large lizard, or a European form of the Asian giant salamander, or a relative of the American Gila monster.

The first known “sighting” is associated with one Hans Fuchs in 1779, who saw two tatzelwurms suddenly appear in front of him. Badly frightened, he suffered a heart attack from which he subsequently died, though not before telling family members of his encounter. A relative did a painting to commemorate Fuchs death, and in it are the images of two large, lizardlike creatures. German cryptozoologist Ulrich Magin remarks, “This depiction of the two monsters is still the best we have of the creature.”


In the later nineteenth century, sightings grew more frequent, with witnesses characteristically describing a lizardlike body, 3 inches thick. Length, 1–4 feet. Skin reported as either smooth or scaly. Whitish or light brown on the back, lighter underneath. Blunt head, sometimes described as catlike. Large eyes with a piercing glance. Wide mouth with sharp teeth. Forked tongue. Indistinct neck. Most reports give it two short, stubby front feet with three toes that point outward; others mention four legs or none at all. Short, thick tail. Most observers thought it had smooth skin, but a significant plurality believed they had seen small scales. Nearly all agreed it had a short, blunt, unlizardlike tail. Nor was there any disagreement about the tatzelwurm’s behavior. If it did not flee as soon as it realized it was being seen, it attacked the witness, sometimes taking huge leaps (accounting for its alternate name, springwurm, or “jumping worm”) and making a snorting or whistling sound while in flight. If the witness did not get away fast enough, the creature would bite him.

In July 1883 or 1884, Kaspar Arnold saw a Tatzelwurm on the Spielberg, near Hochfilzen, Tirol, Austria. He watched it from a mountain restaurant for twenty minutes and was certain it only had two legs.

A two-legged Tatzelwurm leaped 9 feet in the air toward two witnesses near Rauris, Salzburg, Austria, in the summer of 1921. It was gray, about 2–3 feet long, and had a head like a cat.

In 1924 the five-foot-long skeleton allegedly was found by two men,who said it resembled a lizard’s.

In 1934, a Swiss photographer named Balkin claimed to have photographed a Tatzelwurm near Meiringen, Switzerland, but his photo was probably a faked image of a ceramic fish.

In the summer of 1969, a local man reported a 30-inch-long animal with two hind legs near Lengstein, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy. It seemed to be inflating its neck.

In 1990, two naturalists found the skeleton of a lizardlike animal in the Alps near Domodossola, Italy. Giuseppe Costale saw a gray, crested reptile moving in a zigzag fashion on Pizzo Cronia in the same area on two occasions, in October 1991 and September 1992.

The tatzelwurm reportedly hibernates during the winter, sleeping in crevices on mountainsides (thus its third name, stollenwurm, German for “worm that lives in holes”); occasionally, however, farmers find them sleeping in the hay. One farmer who said he killed a hibernating tatzelwurm saw a green liquid drain out of its mouth. Reports have been infrequent in recent years, and the tatzelwurm has been relegated to the status of minor popular superstition (perhaps a dim echo of the once-ubiquitous dragon legend), from the skeptic’s point of view, or to cryptozoological footnote, from the point of view of those who think the stories may describe a genuine unknown animal.

Sources :
Mysterious Creature : “A Guide to Cryptozoology” by George M. Eberhart;
Unexplained : “Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurences & Puzzling Physical Phenomena” by Jerome Clark

Pic Source :
Unexplained : “Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurences & Puzzling Physical Phenomena” by Jerome Clark page 364
Tatzelwurm Tatzelwurm Reviewed by Tripzibit on 04:17 Rating: 5

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