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26 August 2008, JellyBean @ 9:09 am

Hans Fuchs, a poor Swiss farmer was tending to his farm in the Swiss Alps. Suddenly he heard strange noises from his pig pen. He ran towards the pig pen to see what was attacking his prized pig and stopped in shock. What he saw that day in 1779 would not only kill his pig, but he would die the same day of a heart attack.

Before dying the man told of seeing a tatzelwurm (German for “worm with claws”) 5 – 7 feet in length with a snake-like body, clawed front legs and a large feline-like head with sharp teeth.

The creature can become extremely ferocious; If the creature doesn’t run away when it sees a person, it will turn and run toward the person emitting a high pitched call and would try to bite the person.

The Tatzelwurm is said to have normal hibernation periods; sleeping during the winter in crevices on mountainsides (this is the reason for the name “Stollenwurm”) or they will even sometimes sleep in hay in a hay loft.


One report has a farmer killing a tatzelwurm that had been hibernating. The blood flowed freely from its mouth, but was green instead of red.

Local folklore holds that the Tatzelwurm is also able to defend itself by expelling poisonous fumes that are capable of killing a human.

In the following two centuries, many reports were received about a strange monster lurking in the Alps and attacking the livestock of farmers in remote villages. Could this be a type of lizard, or could it be a dragon from legend?

In the 1960’s a photograph emerged which was supposedly taken of the mysterious creature. This was given to a Geneva newspaper from a source unknown. Most researchers and cryptozoologists who have seen the photo are in agreement that it is probably a hoax – probably by a mayor of a Bavarian town to attract tourists.

In 2000 a package that arrived at the Biology College contained a strange skeleton that some scientists are saying is the first physical proof of the Alpine Tatzelwurm. Along with the skeleton came a sizable donation as well. The original owner of the skeleton remains a mystery. The law firm of Gunterhaus Ltd. in Germany handled the donation and refuses to divulge the name of the contributor or why the Geneva Institute was selected to be the recipient.

Scientists are still saying that it is too early to tell what they have. Many people believe it is a hoax, but others say that a hoax would have been spotted early by the Institute.

Cryptozoologists point out that it is indeed possible that such a creature may have existed, although with the recent lack of sightings, it is more than likely that it is now extinct.

Creatures similar to this do exist around the world. The general description of the Tatzelwurm bears some resemblance to an amphisbaenian, the Mexican Mole Lizard. At the turn of the century it was known to be indigenous to Mexico, California and the Platte river region. However these creatures are suited for burrowing in tropical soil and would not survive the rocky alpine ground.

Another theory is that they could be some kind of giant skink, although skinks are also not native to the Alps.

Living in the crevices of the Alps is pretty much a guarantee of existing. Their ability to hibernate in the extreme cold allows them to survive the elements. The depth of all the crevices is unknown and most of the crevices have not been explored.

Being very remote would also allow it some privacy from meddling humans.

The tatzelwurm is not only known in Switzerland, but in other European countries under different names:

* Stollenworm (Tunnel Worm)
* Bergstutzen (Mountain Stump)
* Springwurm (Jumping Worm)
* Daazelwurm
* Praatzelwurm
* Arassas (French Alps)

Could such a creature really exist, or is it just the imaginations of the rural folk of the Alps?

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