Tatzelwurms are creatures of the Alps. Because the Alps criss-cross so many countries, you may also know these strange cryptids by a different name like lindwurm, arassas, or daazelwurm.Tatzelwurms, also known as claw worms, are a strange mix of two creature - a cat and a snake. It makes its home in the mountains and preys on animals and, in some cases, humans.
According to witnesses and Alpine folklore, Tatzelwurms are typically about two feet at the smallest but can grow up to a massive six feet. The cat-snake takes on the qualities of the snake when it comes to its body. Although it has front legs (clawed), it has no hind legs. Its body is covered in delicate scales and is bereft of hair. Its head and face is where its cat-like qualities come through. It has a large head with two, large eyes. In addition to its powerful body and clawed front legs, it is also able to protect itself by spewing poisonous fumes.
Although the creature has been seen throughout the Alps in Spain, France, and Germany most of the sightings are located in Austria and Switzerland.
Interestingly enough, Cryptid Wiki and Culture Trip were able to show that the Tatzelwurm has been a part of cultural consciousness for sometimes. Surprisingly, “the Tatzelwurm appeared in a Bavarian hunting manual named New Pocket Guild of the Year 1836 for Nature, Forest and Hunting Enthusiasts, enshrining its place in folklore as an unproven fact.”
One of the most infamous experiences with the Tatzelwurm comes from a Swiss photographer named Balkin. While in Meiringen, Switzerland in the Alps, Balkin decided to snap a photo of a logo. However, while setting up his shot the log moved. However, it was later believed that Balkin had faked the photo.
Interestingly enough there has been news of the Tatzelwurm into the 21st century. In 2000 a strange skeleton was sent by a local college and then donated, along with a large donation, to the Geneva Institute. Some scientists (rumors only) that believed it to be the first legitimate example of the Alpine Tatzelwurm. The original owner and donator never came forward and the law firm that handled the transaction, Gunterhaus Ltd. refuses to divulge any information.
There are some interesting theories about what the Tatzelwurm is (if it is not real animal). One of my favorites is that it is a salamander. Perhaps, long ago, a giant salamander roamed the land. This wouldn’t be completely unheard of. In fact, there is a Japanese Giant Salamander that can grow up to 5ft, has a long, thick body and has front claws (however, it also does have back legs although they are smaller than the front legs). This sounds a lot like Balkin and countless others in the Alps have claimed to see. Perhaps it was a leftover ancient creature that was all but dead when humans began inhabiting the Alps and left only a few specimens.
The above image is in the public domain. Caption:
Illustration (fig. X) depicting a mythical "Alpine dragon" from Ouresiphoítes helveticus, sive Itinera per Helvetiæ alpinas regiones facta..., 1723, by Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1672-1733), illustration to p. 385.It was a four-footed dragon with a catlike face and a crest (German: Haarbusch) on top, and a tail 3 ells long. Encountered by Andreas Roduner ca. 1660 on Wangserberger mountain.It is only one of many unspecified dragons (draco) of the Swiss Alps treated in the original sources (J. J. Wagner and Scheuchzer), but Meurger & Gagnon 1988, p. 266 counts it as an example of Stollenwurm/Tatzelwurm.