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This article contains information relating to a hoax. According to Cambridge dictionary a hoax is "a ​plan to ​deceive a ​large ​group of ​people; a ​trick."


This is a hodag.

The Hodag (Nasobatilus hystrivoratus) is a folkloric animal of the American state of Wisconsin, referred to as a fearsome critter. Its history is focused mainly around the city of Rhinelander in northern Wisconsin, where it was said to have been discovered.


In 1893, newspapers reported the discovery of a Hodag in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. It had "the head of a frog or a bear, large lizard-like body, large protruding tusks, the horns of the bison, the grinning face of a giant elephant, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur with spines, and a long tail with spears at the end". The reports were instigated by a well known Wisconsin timber cruiser and prankster Eugene Shepard, who rounded up a group of local people to capture the animal. The group reported that they needed to use dynamite to kill the beast.

A photograph of the remains of the charred beast was released to the media. It was "the fiercest, strangest, most frightening monster ever to set razor-sharp claws on the earth. It became extinct after its main food source, all white bulldogs, became scarce in the area."


Screen Shot 2022-03-20 at 9.43

Hodag as it appears in 1939 fearsome critters

Shepard claimed to have captured another Hodag in 1896, and this one was captured alive. According to Shepard's reports, he and several bear wrestlers placed chloroform on the end of a long pole, which they worked into the cave of the creature where it was overcome. He displayed this Hodag at the first Oneida County fair. Thousands of people came to see the Hodag at the fair or at Shepard's display in a shed at his house, where he charged 10 cents for admission. Having connected wires to it, Shepard would occasionally move the creature, which would typically send the already-skittish viewers fleeing the display. In addition, Shepard would often tell the curious customers that the Hodag was especially angry that day. In order to convince people that he was telling the truth, he would go into his shed, supposedly in an effort to calm the Hodag. While he was in the shed, Shepard would change into shredded clothing to make it look like he had been attacked. He would also have his two sons make a lot of noise behind the shed to make the attack sound more convincing.

Euguene Shepards

Eugene Shepard's first published drawing of the Hodag appeard in the October 28, 1893 issue of Rhinelander's weekly paper, the New North. -

As newspapers locally, statewide, and then nationally began picking up the story of the apparently remarkable, living creature, a small group of scientists from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. announced they would be traveling to Rhinelander to inspect the apparent discovery. Their announcement spelled the end of Shepard's gimmick, and he was then forced to admit that the Hodag was a hoax.



Hodag statue in Wisconsin

The Hodag became the official symbol of Rhinelander, Wisconsin. It is the mascot of Rhinelander High School, and lends its name to numerous Rhinelander area businesses and organizations. The Hodag also lends its name and image to the Hodag Country Festival. The city of Rhinelander's web site calls Rhinelander "The Home of the Hodag." A larger-than-life fiberglass sculpture of the Hodag, created by a local artist, is on display at the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, where it draws thousands of visitors each year.

In the 2015 version of Fearsome Creatures, a horror inspired retelling, the Hodag is now a 3,000 pound carnivorous bull-horned rhinoceros with a spiny back and an antipathy for lemons. Its tears are gem-like. The animal is the master of the Michigan lumberwoods since the death of the giant lumberjack, Paul Bunyan. The Hodag has the highest fearsomeness level in the book: 12. The scientific name is Imperator rex.

Hodag recent

Hodag in Fearsome Critters - 2015

In Popular Culture[]

  • An army of Hodags serve the Jersey Devil in the children's book series The Adventures of Casey and the Jackalope.
  • It is a playable card in the videogame "Inscryption", it is unlocked when playing through Kaycee's mod (an alternative mode unlocked after finishing the campaign).
  • The Hodag appears as a monster in one of the dungeons of the video game Magical Diary, released in early 2011.
  • The Hodag appears as a monster in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game's Bestiary 3, released in late 2011.
  • The Hodag was used as a villain in the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode "The Hodag of Horror" with its vocal effects provided by Dee Bradley Baker. The episode debuted in Great Britain in June 2012 before appearing in the United States on the Cartoon Network in July 2012.
  • The Hodag was featured on an episode of the Travel Channel series, Mysteries at the Museum in 2013
  • It appears as one of the monsters from the Harry Potter franchise.
  • In a few short stories in the InCryptid series, the character Alice Healy adopts a baby hodag as a pet.
  • The Hodag is featured in popular trading card game MetaZoo: Cryptid Nation.

Further reading[]

"The Hodag" from Fearsome Critters (1939) by Henry H. Tryon

"The Hodag" from The Hodag and Other Tales of the Logging Camps (1928) by Lakeshore Kearney

Cryptid Profile: The Hodag by Pine Barrens Institue

"The Hodag" from Paul Bunyan Natural History (1935) by Charles E. Brown

"The Hodag" from Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods (1910) by William T. Cox