|Average height||2-6 ft. long|
|Place of origin||Europe|
|Behind the Scenes|
The Tatzelwurm is a worm-like mythological animal and cryptid reported to inhabit the European Alps. It's described as an elongated, reptilian creature with a feline head and no hind legs.
It is reported to live in several areas of Europe, including the Austrian, Bavarian, Italian and Swiss Alps. In some circles, it is classified as a variety of lesser dragon.
It is known by several names in different regions.
- Stollenwurm (Hole-dwelling worm)
- Bergstutzen (Mountain Stump)
- Springwurm (Jumping Worm)
- Arassas (French Alps).
Reports indicate that the creature has a snake-like body between 2 and 6 feet in length, with two clawed front legs, but no hind legs. It is sometimes reported to have the face of a cat. Local folklore holds that the Tatzelwurm is able to defend itself by expelling poisonous fumes that are capable of killing a human.
One claimed photograph of the Tatzelwurm exists. It was taken in 1934 by a Swiss photographer named Balkin who took a photo of what he thought was a very peculiar log. When the camera flashed, the "log" darted away.
The general description of the Tatzelwurm (apart from size) bears some resemblance to an amphisbaenian, the Mexican Mole Lizard. Some have also suggested it might be related to Heloderma. However, both of these reptiles are North American an thus considerably removed from the Tatzelwurm in terms of biogeography.
Tatzelwurm means clawed worm. A synonymous name for the cryptid is Stollenwurm, meaning "the hole-dwelling worm".
The animal appears to be carnivorous and has been observed to attack pigs. It's also an excellent leaper, able to jump over 8 to 15 meters, which is quite impressive for an animal of its size.
In at least two known incidents, it has been reported that the Tatzelwurm bleeds a green fluid when shot. Even if true, this fact doesn't rule out a possibly reptilian identity for this creature, as the lizards of the Prasinohaema genus are known to possess green blood.
- In early illustrations, the Tatzelwurm is sometimes portrayed with four legs and a more typically draconian appearance.