Texas Parks and Wildlife officials are puzzled by a “mystery animal” caught on a game camera in the Rio Grande Valley last week. Officials wondered if the creature could be a new species or an escaped animal from a nearby zoo.
As reported by CBS News, the photo of the mystery animal was provided to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park officials by a visitor. Texas Parks and Wildlife then shared the photo from Rio Grande Valley State Park on Facebook, soliciting comments from readers who might be able to solve the mystery and identify the creature.
While the post prompted the usual barrage of humorous replies, such as a “pig bear” suggestion from one reader and another suggesting that the creature came from outer space, many others offered explanations that wildlife officials later said could be correct.
Captured on game camera – a mystery animal lurking in the Rio Grande Valley! 📷🌲 We're scratching our heads trying to…
One plausible theory is that the animal is an American badger (Taxidea taxus). This creature is similar in appearance to the European badger, although it isn’t closely related. The American badger is found across much of North America, including much of Texas.
Other suggestions worthy of consideration included a large river otter or wild dog. Folklore enthusiasts suggesting a sighting of the mythical chupacabra were left disappointed.
“This is very likely an American badger (not to be confused with the Honey badger that lives in Africa and Asia and is rumored to not care very much),” officials said in an update.
American badgers aren’t often seen in the Rio Grande Valley, not necessarily because they aren’t in the area, but because they’re nocturnal. With spring’s arrival, more badgers are on the move, and new cubs are born. The badger seen by the trail camera, assuming it is a badger as officials believe, may even be pregnant.
While it seems like the book has been closed on the latest mystery in Texas, it’s certainly not the first time the state has produced puzzling photos of unidentified animals. Last June, PetaPixel reported on a baffling image of an unidentified creature outside the Amarillo Zoo in Texas.
Although the image was bizarre, it likely captured a coyote or raccoon moving unusually.
When soliciting help identifying animals, officials will inevitably receive many outlandish suggestions from online jokesters and genuine conspiracy theorists. However, there are often sincere, reasonable guesses among the litany of absurd answers.
With the help of online sleuths, Texas Parks and Wildlife officials in the Rio Grande Valley seem to have reached a reasonable conclusion and closed the latest confounding mystery creature case.
Image credits: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department