You never know what you might catch on a trail cam. That might be especially true in Texas, which is home to all kinds of critters from exotic free-range Nilgai to the mythical chupacabra. Well, a visitor to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park recently captured a trail cam picture of a strange-looking animal.
“[There’s] a mystery animal lurking in the Rio Grande Valley!” wrote the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in a Facebook post. “We’re scratching our heads trying to identify this elusive creature. Is it a new species? An escapee from a nearby zoo? Or just a park ranger in disguise? Regardless, it’s thrilling to see such an incredible animal in its natural habitat.”
Park officials say they do not know the exact location where the photo was taken, except that it was within the boundaries of the park. The Facebook post has prompted a slew of speculation as to what the critter might be. One commenter says it’s “clearly a chupacabra,” while another goes out on a limb to say it’s in fact a “fat, short-legged dog.” Meanwhile, a Fox Weather article suggests that the likeliest explanation is that it’s an endangered jaguarundi, a rare wild cat species.
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Park officials, though, say that the “mystery animal” is likely a far more common species. “We agree with most of the comments that this is very likely an American badger,” they wrote in an update to their original Facebook post. “While American badgers are not commonly seen in the Rio Grande Valley, partly due to their nocturnal behavior, it is part of their natural range.”