This article originally appeared in the November/December 2023 issue.
|Athletics (Dexterity) 1, Recon 1, Stealth 1
|Bilateral symmetry, quadruped (two powerful hind legs and two smaller front limbs)
|C/H/O/N, broadly compatible with human
|Oxygen (O2) inhalant, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) exhalant
|Semi-tropical and tropical rainforest
|Diet and Trophics
|Carnivor/pouncer, endothermic (warm-blooded)
|Two genders, very little sexual dimorphism, conjugal intercourse, viviparous birth (single pup, occasionally twins)
|Lifecycle and ontogeny
|Female looks after the young for about year when it leaves.
Can live for up to ten years in the wild and fifteen in
captivity. Sexual maturity in two years.
Chupacabras can be kept in captivity though they do not make good pets as the constant interactions with other creatures ups the level of their stress hormone. There have been at least two documented cases where pets have attacked children.
They can be a pest, preying on domestic animals and are often hunted near civilisation, though other than as trophies there are no useful products produced from the carcass. The meat is greasy and unappetising to most sophonts.
The Chupacabra is about a metre long. Though it is sometimes said to resemble a kangaroo, so much so that their young are sometimes referred to as joeys, it has also been characterized as reptilian.
It has spines or quills running down its back, red eyes, and a pronounced jawline filled with sharp teeth. It moves by hopping using its two strong back legs. It hunts any creature up to a metre long (its own size), ambushing its prey and overcoming it using its claws or bite. Once it has killed its prey, it feeds by biting on a soft part of the body, then inserting its hollow proboscis into another wound and then draining the prey of its bodily fluids leaving behind the tell-tale three puncture marks from its teeth and proboscis.
There are two sexes which form temporary pair bonds. After a gestation period of around three weeks, the female gives birth to a single pup, or occasionally twins. The female carries the young in a pouch with the male doing most of the hunting. The young is kept in the pouch for around fifty days. Once it leaves the pouch, it follows the mother for about a year. During this period the father usually leaves, though there have been some documented cases where pairs have formed longer lasting relationships with the pairs hunting as a team and producing several joeys together. The Chupacabra becomes sexually active at two years of age.
Normally Chupacabras avoid each other except for mating, however if the population density reaches a level over ten per square kilometre, they produce a stress hormone making them more aggressive and they will start to fight.
The Chupacabra lives in forested areas. The two genders show little sexual dimorphism, the males tend to be slightly larger.
Its name literally means goat-sucker in the Terran language Spanish.
Chupacabra conspiracy theories
In the years before contact with the Solomani, the Chupacabra was known as the hochankil. It supposedly gained its current name when some of the first Solomani to contact the First Imperium saw some, recognised it and referred to it by its Terran name which then stuck.
Conspiracy theorists maintain that the Chupacabra was known on Terra pre-contact, however it is not native to Terra, therefore, for it to have been there, implies that it was accidently released and that further implies that there was either contact between Ziru Sirka and the Solomani earlier than officially chronicled or that they were accidently released by other unknown agents.
Other conspiracy theories involve the similarity to some of the historic drawings to Droyne, thereby muddying the waters by implying that the original Chupacabra was not the hochankil but in fact Droyne.
Whichever of these versions are true then Terra had been visited earlier than previously thought.
Historians have searched through Terran historical documents and found references to the Chupacabra from between -2500 to -2422, these include errors such as reports of them having wings or glowing eyes. It is generally accepted that these records were inserted post contact. There is no known definitive evidence of Chupacabras on Terra prior to -2422.