A Guide to Identifying, Hunting, and Taming Cryptids

24 03 2009

I’m not what you would call an expert, but in addition to psychology, phrenology, and alchemy, I do dabble in cryptozoology from time to time. In my studies, I’ve found that no matter where you may travel, there will always be legends of some sort of semi-mythical creature. The catch is, these creatures are only ever seen by a select few, and those who see them are often considered to be less than reputable sources. If a man or woman could actually capture one of these creatures, tame it, and introduce it into modern society, they would be renowned the world over. Therefore, it is to this end that I have compiled everything you need to know to ensnare any one of numerous creatures from around the world.

sasquatchSasquatch (USA)

Identification: The Sasquatch is found in the forests of the Pacific North West, living nocturnally and enjoying an omnivorous diet typical of primates. Also known as “Bigfoot”, the Sasquatch is traditionally described as 6-10 feet tall, with feet up to 24 inches long and the appearance of a gorilla walking upright.

Hunting: As with many cryptids, the Sasquatch is a difficult creature to find. I’d suggest wearing some form of camouflage and hiding in the branches of a redwood tree, as Bigfoot is known for being quite skittish and will likely flee if you attempt to approach him directly. According to the 1995 Disney film “A Goofy Movie”, Bigfoot is strongly attracted to the smell of nearby grilled steaks, so if you plan to set traps, freshly cooked meat makes for an excellent bait.

Taming: The Sasquatch is one of the more human cryptids, and as such, is more likely to be tamable then a chupacabra or bunkip. Your first goal in taming the Bigfoot would be to cure it of its extreme xenophobia, probably through a regimen of systematic desensitization. Once the Sasquatch is unafraid of those around it, your next goal should be self-hygiene; Bigfoot is notorious for his foul odor. Within months, your Sasquatch, if properly trained, will be prepared for integration into society in small doses; too much at once, and he may revert to his xenophobic nature. If this retraining is successful, encourage the Sasquatch to seek gainful employment. A good idea would be those Geico caveman commercials.

jersey_devilJersey Devil (USA)

Identification: The Jersey Devil is only found in New Jersey, USA, so American cryptid hunters won’t have to venture far to find this one. It’s one weird looking beast: picture a bipedal horse with bat wings, glowing red eyes, a long neck, and the paralyzing scream of a banshee.

Hunting: While tracks have often been found in snow or mud, most Jersey Devil sightings occur while the creature is in flight. As such, while a snare or lure may be tempting, the most efficient method is simply to use a tranquilizer gun or some other form of non-lethal incapacitation that can be used from a great distance.

Taming: As the name would suggest, this guy’s gonna be tough to train. Jersey Devils are legendary for wreaking havoc, and no amount of pleading will change his nature. A cage is highly advised for this animal, although a durable mesh similar to chicken wire will be necessary due to the creature’s propensity to slip through small spaces. As for taming, the best you can do is line his cage with fresh newspaper every so often and hope his chaotic nature subsides.

chupacabraChupacabra (Mexico)

Identification: A largish canine, el Chupacabra is feared and hated by farmers throughout Mexico. With spines along its back, a vampiric thirst for blood and a name that is literally translated as “goat sucker”, el Chupacabra is often found roaming the Mexican countryside at night, and leaves a trail of drained goats with puncture wounds in its wake.

Hunting: The only thing el Chupacabra loves more than a goat is two goats. This is one of the best opportunities you’ll find to test your trapping skills; for bait, use two to three young, virile goats, full of life an energy. While el Chupacabra is feasting on the blood of these goats, you’ll be able to spring your trap effectively and with few complications.

Taming: While it is a savage dog, el Chupacabra is pretty easy to please. Provided with a steady supply of goat’s blood, el Chupacabra can be tamed like any other wild dog. Walking a Chupacabra frequently is encouraged, as house life provides a significantly less active atmosphere than the Mexican country side, and a Chupacabra is not recommended around other, smaller dogs, especially dogs who look like goats.

loch_ness_monsterLoch Ness Monster a.k.a. “Nessie” (Scotland)

Identification: Nessie’s a tricky one to classify. The tell-tale sign of Nessie is the fact that she’s Loch Ness’s resident monster, and tourism booths will be happy to sell you “real” photos of her if you get confused. Often seen from a distance, the head and neck will emerge from the water periodically before diving back into the depths. Most researchers agree the Nessie is likely a Plesiosaur who lives in the subaquatic caves of Loch Ness, although a few contend that she is rather a sea serpent.

Hunting: People have tried to capture Nessie many times and failed. Sonar imaging of the lake shows no signs of Nessie, although this certainly does not outrule the possibility of Nessie fleeing into one of the caves or swimming out into the ocean via underwater inlet. If you wish to capture Nessie, you’ll need to remain quiet underwater for a long time, so bring plenty of oxygen down with you. Nessie is a gentle giant; once you’ve found her, you can probably win her over with gentle petting and affectionate gestures (flowers and candy is always appreciated).

Taming: Obviously, you should have a house by the lake. It would be disrespectful to ask Nessie to come home with you if you have no place to put her. I would recommend a small house with a long dock out over the water. Nessie is not a pet to be tamed; rather, she is a lifelong friend who will come visit you so long as you come running when she does. Those who wish to enjoy a friendship with Nessie can expect to live out their retirement by relaxing on the dock, watching the sun set over the Scottish hills, telling tales of Nessie to the local children, and patiently awaiting her return.

yetiYeti (Nepal)

Identification: Similar to the Bigfoot, the Yeti (known as the Abominable Snowman in some circles) is a reclusive primate, found in the Himalayas rather than North America. The Yeti’s fear of humans is well justified, since the humans of the area are less than hospitable to it, calling it “abominable” and displaying severed scalps of deceased yetis in their monasteries. With whitish fur and a heart full of love, the Yeti is likely the most misunderstood cryptid. Intrepid climbers who seek to scale Everest have often reported hearing a sad, mournful cry echoing off the mountain tops at night, known as “The Song of the Yeti”

Hunting: Why would you hunt a Yeti? Seriously, this guy takes enough crap from everyone as is. The last thing he needs is you going after him with a spear. If you wish to befriend the Yeti (which is strongly encouraged by both myself and the Yetis), I would dress warmly and bring a thermos of hot cocoa to share and a board game of Candy Land. The Yeti will likely be a slow learner, but Candy Land is pretty simple, and once he catches on, you’ll be good to go.

Taming: First, ask the Yeti if he is ready to give humanity another go. He’s had a hard life, and may not be ready to deal with the demons of his past quite yet. If he says no, be patient with him. Yetis are soft-hearted creatures, and he’ll come around. If the warmth of your company has melted his ice-encrusted soul, he’ll tentatively agree. Keep him away from monks and hold his hand as you introduce him to your friends. He’ll be shy at first, but in time, he’ll open up a bit and will probably have some great stories about the mountains.

kappaKappa (Japan)

Identification: Kappas are a truly unique cryptid, and involve an entirely different strategy for catching them. Kappas are most commonly found under footbridges in Japan and are notoriously mischievous. Kappas are similar in appearance to a turtle, with a prominent shell on their backs, although they have heads of hair and a beak-like face. Their demeanor is similar to that of a monkey, they have webbed feet, and they are surprisingly strong, so physical engagement is ill-advised. However, a kappa’s greatest strength is his greatest weakness: their strength is derived from a water-filled cavity atop their heads; removal of the water results in removal of strength.

Hunting: Kappas are big on etiquette, making them simple to catch. A deep bow of respect will compel the Kappa to return the favor, resulting in the water spilling out of his head. After this is accomplished, he can be simply picked up and carried with little resistance. Kappas are also highly intelligent creatures, able to speak and understand Japanese, so if you can come up with a well thought out, logical reason for him to come with you, he’s unlikely to object.

Taming: Kappas are known throughout Japanese folklore as being pranksters. To break him of this habit, my advice would be to respond in kind. Engage in a sort of cat-and-mouse game of practical jokes with the kappa, but don’t let it get carried away. A kappa’s favorite meal is a human child, but it will settle for an adult if provoked. For this reason, it may also be a good idea to have your kappa declawed and detoothed soon after capturing it.

bunyipBunyip (Australia)

Identification: Bunyips are the stuff nightmares are made of. A bunyip traditionally has a dog-like face and body, clawed and webbed toes, and walrus-like tusks, giving it an appearance similar to an aquatic saber-toothed tiger. Bunyips keep to the shallows, lurking in creeks and billabongs, emerging only to snatch up a grown man in his mighty jaws, as shown in the picture at the top of its Wikipedia page.

Hunting: I’d be careful with this one. Previous expeditions have shown that draining the body of water a bunyip calls home will cause it to leave, but no bunyip has ever been captured. Once again, I’d recommend a tranquilizer gun, something to stop it before it’s in range of eating you. The Aboriginees have been dealing with these guys for centuries; try and find a local guide to see if he has any tips for hunting/catching bunyips.

Taming: A bunyip is a mighty beast, and not easily tamed. Start by researching taming techniques for similar beasts, such as saber-toothed tigers and hippopotamuses. Using what you learned from your findings, you can make small, calculated efforts to tame the beast, but remain vigilant. I would personally advice hiring a professional tamer to help you on this one; a bunyip is not to be taken lightly. If you do indeed succeed in taming your bunyip, you should have it fitted with a saddle and ride it around like a king. No current laws exist regarding the riding of bunyips in public places, and even if there were, no one’s gonna try and stop a dude riding an Australian beast with tusks.

jackalopeJackalope (North America)

Identification: Its name a portmanteau of “jackrabbit” and “antelope”, a jackalope is simply a rabbit with antlers, usually found in the southwestern United States. While many “experts” have claimed that the jackalope is a hoax, most likely inspired by rabbits with shope papilloma virus (which causes horn-like growths to spurt from the rabbit’s head), some, including the folks who made Pixar’s short film “Boundin”, still believe in their furry friends

Hunting: The traditional method would be to shoot the jackalope and to mount its head, as President Reagan did at his California ranch. However, killing the jackalope defeats the purpose of taming it and leaves a nasty mess to clean up. Instead, use traditional rabbit catching methods on these guys. The cardboard box propped up with a stick with some peanut butter and sunflower seeds as bait works exceptionally well, so long as you return before the rabbit chews/horns its way through the box.

Taming: Jackalopes don’t have as much personality as the other cryptids, so there’s no real motivation to tame them. Furthermore, their diet is herbivorous and the antlers are just for mating purposes, so no real threat is posed by these guys. You can safely keep them as house pets the way you’d keep a real rabbit, although you should get a bigger cage to allow plenty of horn room.

krakenKraken (Worldwide, esp. Caribbean)

Identification: The Kraken, or Lusca, as it is also known, is a giant sea octopus known for terrorizing sailors and their vessels. The earliest descriptions refer to it as a giant crab, but almost all later descriptions agree that it’s really an octopus. Most recognizable in the Disney “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, the Kraken is known for surfacing near a ship, wrapping its tentacles around the masts, and dragging the vessel and crew down into the depths of the ocean.

Hunting: Being a sea creature of immense proportions, the Kraken is the most difficult creature to capture on this list. Many have tried before, only to be led into a lifetime of unrelenting, Moby Dick-esque hunting of the creature for the rest of their natural lives. At the risk of becoming Captain Ahab, I would advise that you avoid the Kraken at all costs. No good will ever come out of trying to find it, and it doesn’t want to be found.

Taming: Impossible. The Kraken is a soulless killing machine. Alternatively, if you have an octopus for a face, you can control it with some sort of crank thing on your boat. I didn’t really understand that scene.

mokele-mbembeMokele-mbembe (Republic of the Congo)

Identification: Like Nessie, Mokele-mbembe is most likely a dinosaur. All reports by local tribesmen seem to suggest a sauropod, akin to the diplodocus or brachiosaurus, with a long neck, four sturdy legs, a mighty tail, and an affinity for eating the leaves off the top of trees. The Mokele-mbembe wades in the shallow waters of rivers and basins and has been seen by very few outsiders.

Hunting: How does one hunt a dinosaur? It’s not an easy task. The Mokele-mbembe has thick skin which would turn away any sort of tranquilizer dart fired at it, its immense size would make nets useless, and its enormous lung capacity renders gas ineffective. The only advantage for this one is the fact that sauropods are traditionally very dimwitted creatures. So long as you provided simple incentives, such as food, the Mokele-mbembe would likely obey your will, even if that meant leading it into captivity. As for finding one, you should once again inquire with the natives for its whereabouts, as they seem to be the ones who know where to find these beasts.

Taming: If you caught it by playing tricks with its stupid brain, you can just as easily keep it tame using the same methods. I wouldn’t recommend parading this one through any urban areas, however, as someone’s likely to get stepped on. Also, avoid dressing like a tree around this guy. He may eat your head.


Note: This is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles villain known as the Rat King. An actual Rat King is far too disgusting to be shown here.

Rat King (Europe, esp. Germany)

Identification: Easily the most revolting creature on this list, the Rat King is not a single creature, but rather many joined together. A Rat King forms when several rats crammed into an enclosed space find their tails entangled and held together by blood, ice, mud, or worse. Over time, the rats form a hive-mind, with all rats working together to achieve a single goal and sharing the same thought processes, and the single entity known as a Rat King is “born”.

Hunting: Hunting Rat Kings is an extremely bad idea. Rats are filthy creatures to begin with, and the Rat King takes this idea and runs with it. The sight of a Rat King has long been viewed as an omen, and for good reason; Rat Kings typically bring with them disease, especially the Black Plague. If you choose to ignore my warnings, I would advise that you wear full hazmat gear and avoid direct contact with the Rat King. The best place to start your search would be beneath the sewers of major metropolitan areas, especially in Germany, where Rat King sightings are most common.

Taming: The Rat King cannot, nor should it be, tamed. At best, it should be left alone in the sewers to die in its own filth. If you must capture it, seal it within an airtight Plexiglas box with a filter hooked up to ensure that none of its fumes can be breathed in by innocent bystanders.

gnomeGnomes (Argentina)

Identification: Although the mythos surrounding gnomes is a European phenomenon, there were an outbreak of gnome sightings in Argentina in 07-08. As such, the possibility of gnomes being real has once again come into vogue. For those who are unaware, a gnome is a small, bearded man, traditionally small enough to stand under a toadstool. They are typically portrayed as wearing pointed red hats and porcelain or clay likenesses of them are often found in gardens.

Hunting: The gnome is an elusive creature; apart from being hard to see, they can be quite wily and slippery to catch. A well-placed trap can do wonders here, and, even if you don’t catch a gnome, is effective at removing pesky garden squirrels. The gnome usually invokes terror in those who cross it, so avoid locking eyes with the gnome if at all possible. If you must view the gnome, wear swim goggles with tinted lenses or something similar to avoid direct eye contact.

Taming: A gnome is a powerful little creature, full of impish magic. While the gnome is a perfectly well-trained little man, it can be a bit impetuous and will resort to using its magic if angered. As such, until you can teach him self-restraint, try to appease his wishes as much as possible. Firm discipline is not advised, as gnomes tend to take things personally.

mongolian_death_wormMongolian Death Worm (Mongolia)

Identification: The Mongolian Death Worm inhabits the Gobi Desert and is every bit as terrifying as it sounds. This 2-5 foot worm is blood red in color and enjoys incapacitating its foes with an electric discharge or a glob of undiluted sulfuric acid spat at their face. The terror of the desert, it burrows under the sands and emerges only to kill a bystander and drag it back into its lair.

Hunting: The MDW should be shot on sight. No mercy whatsoever.

Taming: See above.

mermaidMermaids (Worldwide)

Identification: In the days when sailing was at its peak, seafarers would often tell tales of mermaids. These half-human, half-fish creatures would swim up alongside boats, no doubt curious about the large object on the surface of the water. While mermaids are apparently able to breathe air, they are not the smartest creatures and tend to forget that humans can’t breathe water, leading to the death of the human as the mermaid tried to take them home with them. They also act like sirens, with their beautiful songs entrancing sailors, causing them to run aground. Or, they’re at least a better excuse for crashing a giant boat than one too many bottles of rum.

Hunting: This is fairly simple. When she invites you back to her place, instead invite her back to yours. If she seems hesitant, inform her that you have a Wii and/or Guitar Hero. This will immediately seal the deal, and she will accompany you back to your pad. You’ll probably have to carry her or bring a wheelchair, since “flipping your fins, you can’t get too far. Legs are required for jumping, dancing, strolling along down those (what do you call them?) streets.”

Taming: There’s not a whole lot of training to be done here. One important thing is to teach her how lungs work, and that they don’t breathe water, at which point she will probably be overcome with immense grief for the countless sailors she’s killed accidentally. This is alright, and is a normal part of the process. Comfort her with a tissue and a tender pat on the back. After that’s over, teach her some of the major differences between human and merman life. For example, she should avoid pools, since the chlorine would probably kill her instantly. And she needs to learn that fish are food, not friends. If not, you could have some seriously awkward moments at Red Lobster.

And now, to spread this knowledge with those who could use it or pass it on to aspiring cryptozoologists, I’ll tag people based on which cryptid they remind me of the most.

Sasquatch – Kylee Husak. Not because you’re hairy, but because Sasquatch is the most popular cryptid, and I’m always seeing quotes from you and pictures of you popping up everywhere.

Jersey Devil – Jess Rathburn. Because you have a wild streak and I don’t think I could tame you.

Chupacabra – Ryan Matthews. Because you seem like the type to steal a Mexican goat.

Loch Ness Monster – Amber Depew. Because, although you don’t live near me, I still get to see you every once in a while.

Yeti – Jesse Jones. Because, although everyone says you’re mean, I choose to believe you’re misunderstood.

Kappa – Alex Laird. Because you’re a small, mischievous fellow, but I’m willing to bet there’s a secret trick to making water pour out of your head.

Bunyip – Justin O’Prandy. Because you scare me sometimes, although in a very cute way.

Jackalope – Gabe Pyle. Because I only see you sometimes, and when you do see you, you’re usually jumping up and down, like that Jackalope from Boundin’

Kraken – Caleb Mays. Because you and I have apparently taken to impromptu wrestling as of late, much like a Kraken and a vessel, and because you’re hair is almost bald, like an octopus.

Mokele-mbembe – Stephen Cox. Because, from the way you eat, I’m willing to bet I could lead you anywhere with the promise of food as an incentive.

Rat King – Garret Rucinski. Because whenever we see each other from a distance, one of us ends up running. Usually me. Also, you got me sick once. Otherwise, you bear no resemblance to this abomination.

Gnome – Kristi Zimmerman. You’re small, well-mannered, and no doubt full of magic.

Mongolian Death Worm – Paul Pyle. Because I enjoy tagging you in notes you’ll never read, you’ve been to Mongolia, and your razor-sharp wit is the closest thing humanly possible to an acid tongue.

Mermaid – Emilie Lynch. If you can forget you’re in the middle of a staring contest, you’d probably forget that humans aren’t fish.