Myths and Legends

Look Out for the Tatzelwurm “Worm with Claws”

The Tatzelwurm
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic LicensePhoto by  digital cat 

Now this is a scary tale of a mountain dwelling creature no one would want to encounter. It’s known as the Tatzelwurm, and it’s appearance is near the reaches of the imagination. According to stories, the Tatzelwurm is a creature that resembles a dragon, but has a catlike head and spiked ridges all along it’s back.
Even though zoologists don’t recognize that this creature actually exists, the Tatzelwurm has been reported for over two centuries. Most of these so called encounters have been in the Swiss and Austrian Alps. So I would definitely be on the look out if planning a vacation in those areas.

First Reported “Sighting” of the Tatzelwurm

According to legend, the first reported sighting of the Tatzelwurm was by a man of the name Hans Fuchs. In 1779 he said he witnessed two Tatzelwurms that just appeared out of no where right in front of him. It’s said that he was scared so badly, that he suffered a massive heart attack. Apparently he lived long enough to tell the tale, but later died due to the heart attack.


A relative of Fuchs’ was able to get a good enough description to create a painting of Hans and the two creatures. This painting was done to commemorate Hans’ death but of course it included two large lizard like creatures of which German cryptozoologist Ulrich Magin says are the best images of the monsters known to exist.


Later Reports of the Tatzelwurm

The later 19th century brought about more sightings of the Tatzelwurm and they also grew more frequent. Witnesses would characteristically describe a creature with a thick, light-colored cylindrical body, four legs with three toes, and wide mouths which had sharp teeth. According to “witnesses” the creature either had a very short neck, or no neck at all, and was said to be around seven feet in length. Most of the observers of the Tatzelwurm believed it to have smooth skin, but there were a few that reported small scales over it’s body. But nearly all reports consisted of a short, blunt, unlizard like tail.


The Tatzelwurm’s behavior was also quite disturbing. Most all witnesses said that if the creature was not immediately scared away by the presence of people, then it would charge and attack those in it’s path. Sometimes it would even take large leaps through the air. This would account for a couple more nicknames, “springwurm” or “jumping worm”. Supposedly it would make a loud snorting or whistling sound while flying through the air. If the one witnessing the event didn’t move quickly enough, then they would suffer a severe bite from the creature.


Other Behaviors of the Tatzelwurm

The Tatzelwurm has been reported as a hibernating creature, which hibernates during the winter. They say it sleeps in crevices on mountainsides which has also given it the German name stollenwurm (worm that lives in holes). But on occasion farmers did find them sleeping in hay stacks and barns.


One certain farmer reported killing a hibernating Tatzelwurm at which point a green liquid drained out of it’s mouth. Then in 1924 two men discovered a five foot long skeleton resembling that of a lizard. So of course the legends continued, and I don’t know if there’s any truth to them, or maybe folks were creating stories from things that could be related to the mythical creature.


Modern Day Tatzelwurm

The myth of the Tatzelwurm is not a very well known legend, and in recent years the reports have become quite infrequent. The stories of the Tatzelwurm have been reduced to a minor popular superstition from those in the skeptical realm. Then there’s the minority of cryptozoologists who believe it’s possible this creature may of existed at one time, but the creature has become a mere footnote in their collection of extinct animals.


Of course somewhere in between the crypto area and skeptic, there are those that believe the Tatzelwurm could be an unrecognized variety of otter, or possibly a European form of the Asian giant salamander. Maybe it’s a relative of what Americans call the Gila Monster. But either way, this creature does not make it’s presence known to many, and it could be that it has mystical powers that can erase witnesses memory of an encounter similar to some Native American beliefs of the Sasquatch.

Tell me what you think of this creature, do you believe you’ve ever had an encounter with one?

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7 thoughts on “Look Out for the Tatzelwurm “Worm with Claws”
    1. Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad you stopped by and hope to see you around more in the future.

  1. Great informative and useful post. I got some idea from your post.

    1. lol, yah it sounds pretty funky alright. It’s a German word meaning “Worm with Claws” 😉

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