Monster Monday: Tatzelwurm

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Tatzelwurm.

Drawing of a tatzelwurm from an 1835 Bavarian hunting manual
Drawing of a tatzelwurm from an 1835 Bavarian hunting manual

The tatzelwurm (German for “claw worm”) is a legendary creature from the Alpine areas of Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. It is described as a large lizard that can grow up to six feet long. It has two front feet, but no hind feet, just a long tail. In some cases, it is said to have a head resembling a cat.

The tatzelwurm prefers dark places and can generally be found in burrows under rocks or fallen trees. If its burrow is disturbed, it can be aggressive toward intruders. It preys on small animals, but there are some reports of attacks on livestock. The tatzelwurm is considered to be extremely dangerous because its breath is venomous.

The first recorded sighting of the tatzelwurm occurred in 1779. A man named Hans Fuchs encountered two of the creatures and was so frightened that he had a heart attack and died. Sightings of the tatzelwurm have continued even in the twenty-first century. There have even been photographs taken and skeletons found, though these have been proven to be hoaxes.

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