The elusive Dzudzan: European version of Chupacabra

Every culture has its own gaggle of monsters and mysterious beasts.

Even today, whenever residents of some isolated and unspoilt villages in Mexico and Latin America discover that something has killed off their goats and chickens while they were sleeping they believe that this was the El Chupacabra’s doing.

Some older villagers of Philippines are ready to blame Aswangs if someone is found dead in the woods.

In Southeast Europe, in the region of Herzegovina in the Balkans, mysterious beast called Dzudzan strikes fear into hearts of older villagers.

Cunning beast

In Herzegovinian folklore Dzudzan is known as a cunning beast, that is able to wiggle through the smallest of holes to go into the henhouse where it mercilessly kills chickens.

In 2017 in village Grude in Herzegovina, after waking up in the morning, one woman found all of her eight chickens beheaded.

Older people immediately started saying that this has to be the work of Dzudzan, as foxes have different modus operandi.

„It is extremely improbable that a fox would kill all the chickens and then just left them laying around, without taking them away to eat. This has to be Dzudzan“, they said to a local newsman.   

In local tales Dzudzan is widely known as an elusive animal, very agile and fast which hunts mostly during night time.  People were saying that Dzudzan makes weird sounds during the night, that it sucks blood of chickens, that it is  impossible to catch him and that no one has ever captured one.

Physical descriptions of the creature vary. Some say that it is smaller then the humans fist, others that it is the size of a Mongoose.

The „Dzudzan“ captured

However, in the time of smartphones and social networks photos of Dzudzan started to appear and spread.

In Rama village a man named Ante Pavličević Tune was able to capture not one, but two Dzudzan’s in 2019.

As he said, something was killing off his chickens so he decided to set up some traps around the chicken coop.  

Soon, he discovered that he caught what he believed it was the Dzudzan.

He made headlines, news from the region were full of headlines that mysterious Dzudzan was finally caught until one angry zoologist started bashing the media for their unscientific approach.


U ramskom selu Ripci u samo 24 sata Ante Pavličević Tune ulovio je u svoju zamku dva džudžana, misteriozne životinje, koje u našem narodu slove kao neuhvatlj…

„News media, of course, did not remember to call experts, zoologists or veterinarians to finally explain to people what Dzudzan really is. They went on to talk about the “Dzudzan“ as the Herzegovinian equivalent of Chupacabra. They are not educating people and for this reason whenever semi-literate people do not know the right term for something, they call it Dzudzan“, said Jelena Kalinic.

She claims that from the photos of  „Dzudzan“ it is clear that the beast that was killing chickens is actually the European polecat (Mustela putorius) – also known as the wild ferret.

This is an elusive animal that is not that common in Herzegovina, which explains why most people do not know how does it look.

 And so, another species is made extinct by human activities, but this time it was a mythical creature.

It is a matter of time when the stories about Dzudzan’s will wither and die out from folk tales and  people of Herzegovina will lose their version of Chupacabra.

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