Dragon of Many Names

Tatzelwurm is a cryptid of Alpine Folklore and Legend. [1] Since the Alps cross many countries and communities, the Tatzelwurm has many different names, including the following:

  • tatzelwurm (meaning 'claw wurm') - Austria [4]
  • bergstutzen (meaning 'mountain stump') - Bernese Oberland in Switzerland [1,4]
  • springewurm (meaning 'jumping worm') [1]
  • stollwurm, stollemvurm (meaning 'tunnel worm') [1]
  • tazzelwurm - Switzerland
  • arassas - France [4]
  • daazelwurm - Slovenia [4]
  • hockwurm - Slovenia [4]
  • praatzelwurm - Austria [4]
  • lindwurm - Austria

Physical Description

Most Tatzelwurm sightings show that it is far from monstrously sized. [1] Reports vary on its description. In some cases, Tatzelwurms are thick-bodied lizard-like creatures ranging between two and three feet (61 - 91 cm). [1] Others claim that the Tatzelwurms are stubby lizard-like reptiles ranging from two to six feet (61 - 182 cm) long. [4] They have flat heads, large eyes, and two very short forelimbs with clawed feet. [2]

Tatzelwurms are reclusive, snake-like animals [2] that have long, scaly bodies with two tiny front legs. [5] A Tatzelwurm's skin is almost white and seems smooth, although in some cases scales are reported. [2] The skin is so tough that one Swiss hunter reported his hunting knife could not penetrate it. [2]


Tatzelwurms live in the valleys of the Swiss, Bavarian, and Austrian Alps. Sightings have been reported all over the Alps Range, [1] including Spain, France, and Italy; [5] however, for hundreds of years, the majority of the reports have come from Austria and Switzerland. [4]

Extensive anecdotal evidence supports its existence, [2] so the Tatzelwurm appears in many nineteenth century almanacs and guides to the Alpine region. [1] There is no known physical evidence that confirms the Tatzelwurm's existence. [2]

Particular Reports

In 1779, Hans Fuchs saw two Tatzelwurms appear suddenly, and the fright they gave him triggered a heart attack. He told his family about the encounter as he tried to recover. Unfortunately, he did not recover, and one of his family members painted a memorial to him, with two large lizard-like creatures a-lurk in the background. [4]

In 1828, a peasant in Solothurn, Canton found a dead Tatzelwurm in a dried-up marsh. [2] He set it aside for a local professor, who later reported it to Heidelberg. The remains were lost in transit before they went to Heidelberg. [2]

In 1929, an Austrian schoolteacher reported spotting a Tatzelwurm. He said it kept staring at him, and when he went to capture the creature, it moved with the agility of a lizard, disappearing into a nearby hole. [2]

In 1934, a Swiss photographer took an accidental photo of a Tatzelwurm poking its head out of a tree stump. [2] The photo shows a blunt head and the forepart of a lizard, but it looks like a crude model. [2] Many cryptozoologists consider this photography to be a hoax. [5]

On 6 February 1970, a story appeared in La Tribune de Geneve, a Swiss Newspaper. It was written by Georges Hardy. [5]

Tatzelwurm Cryptid Decrypted

The cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans believes that the Tatzelwurm could be a relative to the Gila Monster of the American Southeast, [5] or the Mexican Bearded Lizard. [3] Both of these lizards have large, heavy bodies; studded, protective skins; and venomous bites. [3]

Other competing theories on the Tatzelwurm include an unrecognized species of otter, a semiaquatic mammal, or some sort of amphibian, perhaps a relative to the Giant Salamander, Megalobatrachus. [5]


  1. Cohen 79
  2. Cohen 80
  3. Cohen 81
  4. Coleman & Clark 231
  5. Coleman & Clark 232

For more information on footnotes and references, please see the bibliography.