Friday, February 15, 2013

The Bat out of Hell (Chupabat): A Guest Entry by Dale Drinnon

There is a tradition of bat-winged vampires and winged bloodsucking demons in Latin America which covers a wide area and goes back to Pre-Columbian times. In more recent times the winged bloodsuckers are identified as Chupacabras or more specifically, the subtype of Chupacabras that I have nicknamed the Chupabat and Robert Kline calls the Gargoyle bat. This type is a winged creature that most commonly attacks livestock and drinks their blood, often flying over walls of enclosures that are too high for normal animals to leap over. Traditionally the creatures are called simply Vampires or Devils (more properly Devil Bats) and specifically, "The Bat out of Hell." Reports are rare enough to cause considerable consternation when a raid is discovered, so they are not common, which is reasonable given that they are fairly large animals. Reports are most common between Mexico and the southern borders of Brazil and Paraguay, but exceptional reports are found in the Southern United States, the Mid-Atlantic States and down South into Chile and Argentina. I first became aware of the matter because of some reports coming out of Central America about 2005 were specifying that Chupacabras were specifically giant Vampire bats that were seen to attack sheep in numbers but were each individually the size of smallish dogs with wings, but Folklore in Central America goes back to the 1700s and 1800s, with some reports called "First Chupacabras" reports in the Spanish-speaking press going back to the 1930s and 1940s. (In such reports the name "Chupacabras" was not used; however its alternate "Comelingas" meaning something-which-is-responsible-for-cattle-mutilations was used. The name means literally "tongue-stealer") After some deliberation, I believe it is quite possible some reports of "The Jersey Devil" plus other comparable "Devils" down as far as Florida are also descriptions of such bats. In Chile one of the Traditional creatures said by the Wikipedia to be like the Chupacabras is the Peuchen, and the type living around New Orleans most like it is called a Gunch: Texas is also an area where reports continue to the present day and also have a long traditional background (as Vampires or Devils).

A summary of several sightings ascribed to Giant Vampire bats comes from and selected passages follow:

According to mainstream science, the world’s biggest bat is the Bismark flying fox, an animal that never gets larger than six feet from wingtip to wingtip. According to cryptozoology, mainstream scientists might be wrong. Many sightings from seemingly reliable people suggest that this might not be the case.
Giant vampire bat reports are generally kept separate from giant bat reports, mainly because the giant vampire bat is large for a vampire bat, but still medium-sized when compared to bats in general.

In Mexico, an ancient Mayan cult worshiped the "Death Bat.” Around 100 B.C., a peculiar religious cult grew up among the Zapotec Indians of Oaxaca, Mexico. The cult venerated an anthropomorphic monster with the head of a bat, an animal associated with night, death, and sacrifice. This monster soon found its way into the pantheon of the Quiché, a tribe of Maya who made their home in the jungles of what is now Guatemala. The Quiché identified the bat-deity with their god Zotzilaha Chamalcan, the god of fire.

The Popol Vuh, a sacred Mayan text, identifies Zotzilaha as not a god, but a cavern, "The House of Bats". Zotzilaha was home to a type of bat called Camazotz; one of these monsters decapitated the hero Hunahpú. Camazotz has been translated as "death bat" and "snatch bat". It is recorded in chapter 10 of this book that the Camazotz’s call was similar to eek, eek. A vastly different story appears in Chapter 3. Here a demon called Camalotz, or "Sudden Bloodletter", clearly a single entity, is identified as one of four animal demons which slew the impious first race of men.

In the Latin American region, it seems that the ancient belief in the "death bat" survives even to the present day. Several cultures have traditions of bat-demons or winged monsters; for example, legends of the hik’al, or Black-Man, still circulate among the Zotzil people of Chiapas, Mexico. Perhaps revealingly, the Hik’al is sometimes referred to as a "neckcutter". Other bat-demons include the soucouyant of Trinidad and the tin tin of Ecuador.

Yet another similar creature appears in the folklore of rural Peru and Chile. The chonchon is a vampire-type monster; and it is truly bizarre, even for a legendary creature. It is said that after a person’s death, the head will sometimes sprout enormous ears and lift off from the shoulders. This flying head is the Chonchon; its sound, as recorded by Jorge Luis Borges, was like tui-tui-tui. Could the legends of the Chonchon have sprung from the same source as the Camazotz legends?

But what exactly was the basis for the Camazotz legend? Most archaeologists believe that the monster was based on the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus), a bat traditionally associated with bloodletting and sacrifice. Another suspect is the false vampire bat (Vampyrum spectrum), due to its large size and habit of attacking prey around the head or neck.
In 1988, a species of fossil bat related to Desmodus rotundus, but 25 percent larger, was described as D. draculae. It was described on the basis of two specimens from Monagas State, Venezuela. A third specimen from São Paulo State, Brazil, was described in a 1991 article by E. Trajano and M. de Vivo. The Brazilian specimen had not yet been dated when the article was written, but the two biologists suggest a "relatively recent age" for the skeleton. They refer to reports circulating among local natives of large bats which attack cattle and horses; these reports may suggest that the bat still lives. Its recent age and large range suggest that the bat could have co-existed with the Quiché, giving rise to the legends of the Camazotz. Trajano and de Vivo also speculate that Desmodus draculae may have fed on larger prey than did normal-sized vampire bats, possibly even humans?

Several other stories supporting the idea of a large bat-like creature have come out of Latin America in the last century. A 1947 report of a creature presumed to have been a living pterosaur may in fact have been of a large bat. J. Harrison saw five "birds" with a wingspan of about 12 feet. Harrison’s birds were brown and featherless.

The next report of a bat-like monster from the area is a story told by a Brazilian couple, the Reals. One night in the early 1950s, they were walking through a forest outside of Pelotas, Brazil, when they saw two large "birds" in a tree, both of which alighted on the ground. Although reported as winged humanoids, the proximity of the sighting area to the Ribeira Valley, where the Brazilian specimen of D. draculae was found, forces one to wonder whether the Reals’"birds" were actually bats.

In March, 1975, a series of animal mutilations swept the countryside near the Puerto Rican town of Moca, and during the incident a man named Juan Muñiz Feliciano claimed that he was attacked by a large, gray-feathered creature. These bird-like creatures were seen numerous times during the outbreak. There was also talk of older reports from the same area.

These reports didn’t gain real notoriety until the mid-1970s, when a number of sightings of large birds or bats surfaced in Rio Grande Valley, Texas. The first report came from the town of San Benito, where three people reputedly had encounters with a bald-headed creature. But rumors had long circulated among the Mexican inhabitants of the town about a large bird-like creature, believed to make tch-tch-tch sounds.

On New Year’s Day, 1976, two girls near Harlingen watched a large, birdlike creature with a "gorilla-like" face, a bald head, and a short snout or beak. The next day, a number of three-toed tracks were found in the field where the creature had stood. On January 14, Armando Grimaldo said he was attacked by the creature at Raymondville. He said it was black, with a monkey’s face and large eyes. Further reports surfaced from Laredo and Olmito, with a final sighting reported from Eagle Pass on January 21 (similar reports have continued sporadically throughout the Southwest and the most recent case recorded here was from Southern California in 2010).

The reports cited above, as well as countless others which await careful researchers, support a conclusion that a mysterious winged creature exists in the deserts and jungles of Mesoamerica. The prominence of the bat in Latin American mythology and the discovery of the recently-extinct Desmodus draculae in South America point to the possible identity of the creature as a large, as-of-yet unknown bat, rather than a living pterosaur, as is generally supposed.

The Ahool is the latest addition to the InCryptid Field Guide!


After more reports starting coming in, it was quite apparent that although cryptozoologists spoke of the Giant Vampire bats as a separate category from the (presumably fish-catching) giant bats like the Ahool, supposedly being smaller and with different habits, the reports in their collections spanned all sizes from fairly small bats with a wingspan of a foot or two, to bats as large as the largest known bats with a wingspan of six or seven feet, and then to monstrously large bats that could stand upright three feet tall or more and have wingspans estimated as 12 feet or more across, or at least as much as the biggest eagles. My determination was that the largest sized reports belonged to a different creature, the New World version of the Ahool, although some of my colleagues do not make that distinction. This one would be the inspiration for Camazotz (Kamazotz) although it would not be the giant vampire. The true Giant vampire bat is the smallest category and those would most reasonably be survivals of the fossil form. But the Chupacabras form of bat is a much larger bat and this is what is known as the Chonchon or Devil Bat. It is just about the same size as the larger flying foxes and its plump round body is just about the size of a human head. This is the reason the story grew up about it that it was only a vampiric human head, flying around with the aid of wings: the wingspan is once again said to be six or seven feet (the arm span of a big man or perhaps a little more) On the ground it scrambles around on four legs or leaps weakly with the hind legs (however, it launches itself into flight from the leaping posture, so the length of the leaps may be confused with short flights made by the bat).

My best candidate for the Chupabat, Chonchon, Jersey Devil or Devil bat is that it is very much like the false vampire bat, Vampyrum spectrum, but twice the length and wingspan, making it about comparable in weight to a large barnyard fowl. The known bats often feed on birds, often killing and carrying off birds equal to their own weight. The known species is commonly reputed to be a blood-drinker and that might even be true because large bats are known to consume liquids in preference to solids to cut down on the additional weight they have taken aboard while feeding and which otherwise might interfere with their flying ability. The larger bat is said to have a short or monkey-like face whereas this bat has an elongated snout with a leaf-shaped structure on the end. Its fangs would be an inch long. The ordinary false vampire bat kills birds by biting though their skulls and necks: in one twice the dimensions, the fangs would be fearsome enough to do real damage to dogs and sheep. In recent times, there is at least one human victim who claimed to have been bitten by one.

The Wikipedia describes the appearance of the known spectral Bat, Vampyrum spectrum, as follows:

This species is the largest bat (Chiroptera) native to the New World and the largest carnivorous bat in the world. The wingspan typically ranges from 60 to 91.4 cm (24 to 36.0 in), with the largest specimens attaining just over 100 cm (39 in). The length is 12.5–13.5 cm (4.9–5.3 in) (there is no tail) and body mass is 145–190 g (5.1–6.7 oz). The fur on the upper parts of the bat is normally dark brown, chestnut brown or rust-orange and quite short and fine. The ears are very long and rounded. There is no discernible tail, but the tail membrane is long and broad. The large feet are robust, with long curved claws. The muzzle is long and narrow, and the teeth are long and strong. The noseleaf, averaging 1.7 cm (0.67 in) long, is medium-sized, lance-shaped, horseshoe and spear with continuous rim raised to form a hollow cup around the nostrils. Underparts are usually pale, dirty gray-brown to yellow-brown—the fur is much shorter than on the back.”

According to the Chupabat reports, the longer hair on the back can be tousled and stuck together in locks which look "spiky." Coloration is much the same, but the yellowish-brown may look greenish in some kinds of artificial lighting at night. There are many depictions of this larger false vampire or Devil Bat, both in traditional arts (and in archaeological finds) and as depicted by modern witnesses, and the most reliable ones bear a close resemblance to the known spectral bat, although the scale indicates that it is much larger. It would appear to have a range that overlaps the range of the known species, but the larger bat has a wider range and also (on top of that) wanders over a wider area more often. This is consistent with the rare reports in the Southern United States and down into Chile and Argentina.

Two things about their predations should be noted: individually they prefer to raid henhouses and such, but gangs of them will attack larger animals such as sheep and dogs. In attacks where large numbers of animals are killed, we might be dealing with rabid bats killing indiscriminately or we might have mobs of them going kill-crazy, but sometimes individuals of known predators such as cats seem to go on killing sprees and wipe out all of the livestock on a farm, for example. Secondly, the Chupabats do not actually suck blood, but they will drink it. And most of the blood that an animal has remains behind when the creature is done eating; it simply settles in the dead body to the lowest point by the force of gravity and is no longer noticed because the bleeding has stopped and the blood coagulates.

A determination would be needed to see if the Chupabat deserves a new genus and species of its own, but I am inclined to think it is a larger species of the genus Vampyrum on the strength of the evidence.


Chupabats in Texas, and More on Big Bats

More on ChupaBats, Jersey Devils, False Vampires and Real Chupacabras

ChupaBats, SuperBats

Dale's blog may be found at


I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my good friend and cryptozoologist Dale Drinnon for putting this essay together for me. I'm personally fascinated by the notion that the Chupacabra may, in fact, be a Giant Vampire Bat. Of course, all of my blog's readers know that I never rule out any supernatural theories. Could this creature be a manifestation of Camazotz in our modern times? The Mayans described Camazotz as being a god, but I disagree. This creature's traits are more in keeping with either a Vampire or a demon. So instead of being a god, perhaps Camazotz is a demon with vampirelike tendencies? None of my research seems to indicate that the Death Bat (as Camazotz is called) is a benevolent deity.


  1. My boyfriend and I witnessed an ENORMOUS batwinged creature while driving on the austin toll road this past friday night (the 15th) at around 9pm or so. We have been trying to figure out what it was or if someone else saw it.. we were driving in the left lane and it jumped out from the grass area and flew right in front of our car like 5 feet away.. it's wingspan was HUGE like over six feet from what I can tell.. and it went so fast that we just saw wings we didn't get to see the body.. it was dark grey/brown in color almost black. We were really scared! If anyone else saw please let me know!

  2. Would you be willing to email me and give me the full account?