There have been many strange cryptids I’ve come across while doing this series, but when I came across this cryptid, I had to write on him. I mean, who wouldn’t? This particular cryptid is a giant worm who has been nothing but trouble in not only southern Brazil, but also in countries such as Uruguay, Nicaragua and Bolivia. I am talking about our next cryptid—the Minhocao. The word Minhocao is Brazilian Portuguese and literally means “giant worm”.
This worm, despite the name, however, is nothing like other worms. This subterranean serpentine creature has skin hard as pine tree bark, a piglike snout, thick bony armoured scales or plates and movable horns on its head. The Minhocao can cause a large amount of destruction. Two separate eye-witness accounts make note of the Minhocao turning over trees and rerouting rivers. The Minhocao has been reported to grow up to 150’ long and 15’ wide. One witness reported it as being 3’ thick, but not very long and that it was “no longer than a lasso”.
After various eye-witness accounts, August de Saint Hilaire is quoted as saying the following of the Minhocao:
“…the monster in question absolutely resembles these worms [earth worms] with this difference, that it has a visible mouth; that it does rise to the surface of the water, but that it causes animals to disappear by seizing them by the belly.”
This giant earthworm burrows beneath the ground, creating massive trenches as he goes along. These trenches have been known to turn over houses and bridges and has also been known to divert rivers. If you want a more accurate representation of the size of the Minhocao, you need to have a look at its tunnels. Some of these tunnels are 3’ to 10’ wide and this could possibly give us a better idea of how large the Minhocao is. According to local legend the tunnels created by the Minhocao are known to create underground rivers. This creature is known to be more active during the wet season as this is when the majority of the Minhocao’s tunnelling occur. This is what causes most people to believe the Minhocao is an aquatic creature, living in large bodies of water.
There have been many sightings of the Minhocao over the years. All of these sightings give us various descriptions of the creature as well as various accounts of the damage the Minhocao is capable of.
Emil Odebrecht, while surveying Santa Cantarina Uplands in Brazil, had his work delayed while busy on a swampy plain by winding trenches along the stream. He said he couldn’t step over them but was capable of jumping over these trenches.
In Parana Brazil, a woman was out fetching her water one morning only to find that the pool where she drew her water had been destroyed by an animal she described as “big as a house” as it crawled on the ground.
Another sighting in Parana comes from a young man who claims to have seen a large pine tree come tumbling down. Rushing to the tree, he noticed the earth moving and saw a glimpse of a huge, black wormlike animal. He states that it was no larger than a lasso and had two moving horns on its head which lay close to its body. He says he caught it wallowing in mud.
Lebino Jose dos Santos, 1849
Lebino, when travelling on the Termas del Arapey in Paraguay, heard about a Minhocao that had been caught in a narrow cleft of rock and died.
One evening in Parana, 1849
While travelling on the Rio dos Papagaios in the evening, after lots of rains, a young man heard what sounded like rain. However, there was no rain. On the next day, he discovered a large piece of land on the other side of the hillock that had deep furrows which led him to a strong plateau where piles of reddish-white clay allowed him to follow the direction the animal had gone. The Minhocao had headed off to a stream which ran into the Papagaios. Three years after the fact the tracks were still there. He then came to the conclusion that they had been created by 2 different animals.
January of 1864
In the month of January, 1864, someone who lived on a tributary of the Rio dos Cachaross, came home after being away for 8 days, only to see that the nearby road was completely undermined with huge heaps of soil thrown up with a huge, grooved track breaking off into a swamp. It had completely changed the course of the stream along with knocking down several pine trees. Remarkably enough, the track was still visible in 1877, 13 years later.
As there have been no sightings since the 19th century, a lot of people are saying that the creature is extinct. It could be that this creature is in fact extinct, or perhaps that people are just avoiding the areas it is known to inhabit—maybe it’s avoiding them. Either way, it is truly a disturbing creature and worthy of the term “cryptid”. There may not be any official sightings since the 19th century, but that doesn’t always mean something is extinct. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.