This post is recycled from 2004.
People seem to have a need for fantasy. I have written in the past about "fantasty diggers" but perhaps something should be said about fantasy creatures as well.
There is the fellow who claims to be an expert in wildlife who says he hunts blue fox, which he describes as a cross between a red fox and a Gray fox. That would be a fascinating cross (!) as these two animals are not remotely related to each other and cannot mate (nor do they wish to).
The same fellow chimed in that American rabbits den underground and that there are rabbit warrens in America. In fact no American rabbit dens underground. All of our native rabbits are cottontails (which is a genus, not a species) or hares and they nest in the shallowest of scrapes in the dirt. The pygmy rabbit, which lived in a small section of the West and was no bigger than a rat, was the one exception, but it is now believed to be extinct in the wild.
America runs rife with fantasy animals. There is Big Foot and Sasquatch, but also the Chupacabra, the Mothmen of Ohio, the Ozark Howler, various types of vampire dogs and Werewoves, and "Chessie" the Lake Champlain version of the Loch Ness Monster.
The U.K. has the same phenomenon, where loose, sem-feral lurchers and sheep-worrying dogs are described as the "Beast of Bonndwyyn" or some other interesting-sounding place.
Tracks are carefully photographed, and the brave locals point to the big claw marks as proof that a large feral cat (a black panther or jaguar or American cougar) is running loose in the allotmments.
In fact, the claw marks are proof that it is not a big cat -- all cats except cheetahs retract their claws when walking or running. If you see claw marks in a track, you have a dog. A dog that looks a lot like a large wild cat is most probably a lurcher. There may be a few feral swamp cats in the UK (as well as Scottish wild cats) but if you have ever seen one of either species, you will not worry about much livestock being lost -- both are hardly bigger than a large house cat.
Tonight, when you see monsters running through your streets, try to remember it's Halloween, and not Chupacabra hunting season. Fantasy is a fine thing -- so long as it's not confused with reality.
- Related Posts
** Chupacabra Hunting With Terriers
** The Beast of Exmoor and Other Nonsense
** Beast of Dartmoor is Caught
** The "Beast of Basra" Is Blamed on the British
** The Lion of Dartmoor
** P.T. Barnum and the Beastiaries of the Imagination
** The Mystery Beast of North Carolina
** Nonsense With Trail Cams