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The hodag is a fictional animal of Wisconsin in the United States. There are at least three somewhat different incarnations of this creature.

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Black hodag

Hodag captured by Shepard, 1896

This variety of hodag, Bovinus spiritualis, was the earliest "discovered", found in the woods of Northern Wisconsin in 1893 near Rhinelander, by Eugene Simeon Shepard[?] (or Sheppard, according to some sources) (1854-1923). It is also the largest and most ferocious of the three kinds known, around 2.5 m (7 ft) or more long and 1 m (3 ft) high at the shoulder, and weighing approximately 80 kg (185 lb). It is covered with black fur, and has spikes along its back and two horns on its head.

Legends of the black hodag were told earlier in the 19th century among the lumberjacks of the area. According to these, the hodag had risen from the ashes of an ox which had to be burned because of all the profanity hurled at it by the lumberjacks.


It had "the head of a bull, the grinning face of a giant man, thick short legs set off by huge claws, the back of a dinosaur, and a long tail with a spear at the end", according to news reports from the time of its discovery.

Sidehill dodge hodag The sidehill dodge hodag, perhaps also known as the cyascutus, dwells in the hills and bluffs of Southwestern Wisconsin. It has evolved to have longer legs on one side than the other, so that it can more easily walk across the hills, with the shorter legs on the uphill side. (Of course, this only helps in going one direction across the hill.) It is around the size of a whitetail deer[?]. It lives on a diet of hillside rocks, and has a spiked tail similar to the black hodag.

Cave hodag The smallest hodag of all, the cave hodag seems to be a slight modification or evolutionary successor of the sidehill dodge hodag, with at least three glowing eyes to enable it to see in the caves of Southwestern Wisconsin. It has also been spotted across a considerable range of the United States, with sightings in Virginia, eastern West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and the Ozark Mountains[?] in Missouri and Arkansas. In these states, it is limited to areas with caves present, typically those with limestone karst formations. There are also rumours of possible sightings in the Pyrenee Mountains in Europe. It has been suggested that the sidehill dodge hodag may have retreated to the caves to escape encroaching civilization or logging, perhaps also explaining its migration to these other areas.

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