These grotesque, raccoon-like, semi-reptilian foragers are said to dwell in the dense, and often foreboding, forests of Vermont.

Sometimes known as “raccoon-igator,” legends of these ferocious, fur-bearing, ostensibly cold blooded HYBRID BEASTS — which are known for their midnight raids on campground dumpsters — have been emerging from the rural, woodland regions of Vermont, particularly the Mount Pelier area, for generations.

Often mistaken for a raccoon at a distance, these swift scavengers have terrified more than a few observers who have had the opportunity to get a close look at these unique animals as they scoured through dumpsters or garbage cans during one of their notorious nocturnal feeding frenzies.

Described by eyewitnesses as being a relatively small mammal, with a rounded torso and a thick coat of grayish fur; far and away the most fascinating — not to mention frightening — aspect of these creatures are their faces, which, according to most accounts, bear a visage which is virtually indistinguishable from the voracious aquatic predator known as the alligator.

It is the apparent synthesis of features between these vicious reptiles and these dexterous masked tree dwellers, from which this Darwinian nightmare garnered its bizarre appellation.

In fact, this varmint is so bizarre by zoological standards that “The Monster Spotters Guide to North America” was forced to reference a mid-80s pop-horror-alien film in order to describe the creature:

“Not much is known about these strange animals. According to reports they look like something out of the movie ‘Critters,’ resembling raccoons in both appearance and behavior, except that they have fearsome alligator-like faces.”

Although the origins of these repto-mammalian hybrids remain shrouded in mystery, sightings of these animals have measurably increased during the past decade. This fact has caused more than a little consternation for homeowners in the Mount Pelier region.

While there are many researchers who believe that alleged encounters with the Coonigator are little more than cases of observers mistaking common forager animals — such as the opossum or, of course, the raccoon — for something more extraordinary, there is a small contingent of witnesses who insist that what they have seen is unlike anything else that dwells on this earth.

Is it possible that an indigenous scavenger has evolved into a more predatory creature whose features now bear a distinctly reptilian visage? Or — even more incredibly — is there a chance that a relatively tiny species of alligator or cayman-like reptile may have evolved into a fur-bearing, warm blooded animal capable of surviving the harsh, New England winter?

While it seems likely that reports of these creatures are nothing more than cases of mistaken identity — combined with the rich and colorful tradition of Vermont Folklore — there is a small chance that they represent either a mutation of a known animal or a new species altogether.

Perhaps some lucky hunter will be fortunate enough — or misfortunate as the case may be — come across one of these bizarre beasts and put the mystery to rest.

© Copyright Rob Morphy 2002 — 2011