Countdown to Halloween: The mythical creatures of Europe - Wolpertinger

Countdown to Halloween: The mythical creatures of Europe - Wolpertinger

For Euronews Culture's countdown to Halloween, we’re taking a look at some of the lesser-known mythical creatures of Europe.

Today is the turn of Germany with the Wolpertinger.

This is not one of the most frightening mythical creatures on our list, especially compared with the Baba Yaga or trolls.

Picture a small mammal resembling a rabbit with antlers, wings and webbed feet who lives in the alpine forests of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.

Yep, that’s it.

This bunny-deer-pheasant mashup is the Jackalope’s underachieving European cousin, whose scariest attribute is how its spelling varies from region to region: Wolperdinger, Woiperdinger, Volpertinger or Wulpertinger.

Albrecht Dürer
Representation of the Wolpertinger - Albrecht Dürer

Its myth reportedly dates back to the 1800s and has been a source of fun for taxidermists since.

Many believe its legend boils down to rabbits that were infected by the Shope papillomavirus – a disease that causes bony tumours to grow on their heads or bodies.

Poor bunnies.

To make matters a bit more ridiculous, according to legend the best way to catch a Wolpertinger is to be a beautiful young woman, since the horny beast has a weakness for female beauty. The sight of exposed breasts apparently causes the Wolpertinger to fall into a stupor, making it vulnerable to anyone wishing to catch it.

Beware gullible tourists

While you may not be quaking in your boots at the description of the Wolpertinger, the hybrid does have one nefarious purpose: tricking tourists into the woods so they get lost and starve.

But over the years, they’ve mostly been a tourist trap of another sort, as Bavarians have sold the stuffed and mounted creatures to tourists passing through, claiming they are part of the local wildlife.

So, beware the nipple-mesmerized hybrids and taxidermists eyeing up your wallet.

Join us tomorrow for our final mythical creature...