The Tatzelwurm is a mysterious cryptid that makes its home in the Alps. Though sighting of the creature are uncommon the Tatzelwurm has managed to become a beast of legend  in the local communities and has amassed a variety of different alias’s such as Stollenwurm, Daazelwurm, Arassas, Praatzelwurm, Springwurm and Bergstutzen. Reports of this mysterious creature vary in description, some sighting claim the Tatzelwurm to be lizard-like while others more bizarrely claim the features of a cat.

A common description of the enigmatic Tatzelwurm is that of a creature between 2 and 6 feet, completely covered in scales and with no hind legs but rather a long snake like body. The Tatzelwurm has 2 front legs and is said to have very big bright eyes and feline like ears which some witness’s claim gives the Tatzelwurm the appearance of a cat covered in scales rather than fur. Another notable feature is that the Tatzelwurm can apparently expel poisonous fumes that are strong enough to kill a human.

Tatzelwurm, myth or reality?

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An apparent photo of the Tatzelwurm
An apparent photo of the Tatzelwurm

There really is no evidence in favor of the Tatzelwurm, even what is believed to be the very fist sighting back in 1828 seems unlikely. As the story goes a peasant found the corpse of a Tatzelwurm which by the time he had managed to bring it home crows had apparently eaten half of the creature, after this the specimen was lost. Even so, the Tatzelwurm built up quite a following of believers and was even considered fact 1800’s. Its now believed that even if this creature did actually exist that because sightings are so rare now it may be completely extinct.

It is widely believed that the Tatzelwurm is actually some kind of rare salamander or specifically a Gila Monster. There are definitely a lot of similarities between the Tatzelwurm and the Gila Monster most notably the preferred habitat of underground burrows in mountainous areas and this could also explain the reports of poisonous fumes as the Gila Monster is extremely venomous and one of the worlds only venomous lizards. The description of the Tatzelwurm even fits that of a Gila Monster even if it is some what of a loose fit.

Tales of the Tatzelwurm legend

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Artist impressions of the Tatzelwurm
Artist impressions of the Tatzelwurm

There are two well known tales of the legend of the Tatzelwurm. The first tales follows that of a young girl who was working on a farm in Switzerland chopping down bean poles when she accidently disturbed the burrow of a Tatzelwurm and was attacked. The Tatzelwurm in this account was described as being of a gray coloration and about the size of a common domesticated cat with a fleshy hairless body and only sports two front legs. According to the story the Tatzelwurm glared at the girl and she ran away describing big bright eyes to intense to meet.

The second story tells that of a man and his son out gathering herbs in the mountains when the man suddenly heard his son scream and seemed to be paralyzed in fear staring at a rock. The man sprinted to his son only to see a ‘gruesome monster’ under the rock near his son which hissed like a snake and hat the face of a cat with big bright eyes. The man managed to stab the Tatzelwurm with a sharped stick and pierced its flesh easily but according to the story the ‘blood’ of the creature sprayed out and burnt the mans leg making his journey home long and arduous due to his limp.

Make what you will of these stories but the similarities with the Gila Monster are again apparent down to the habitat, the use of poison/venom and the fact that in each instance the creature or ‘Tatzelwurm’ was in some kind of burrow which could easily explain why the creature was seen to have on two legs. The only discrepancy is that of the cat like face and the bright glowing eyes.


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