Name: Tatzelwurm, Stollenwurm
Features: Lizard-like creatures with a feline’s face
Source: Alpine Folklore
The Tatzelwurm were dragon-like creatures that roamed the European Mountain Range system known as the Alps. This extensive mountain range stretches across eight Alpine countries: France, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany and Slovenia. Many of these countries have their individual stories and legends to share about this mythical creature.
Other names used to refer to these creatures are Stollwurm, Tazzelwurm, Arassas, Bergstutz, Daazelwurm, Hockwurm, Praatzelwurm, Springwurm and the Alps Dragons.
These legendary creatures were known to occasionally attack and feed off the livestock of farmers from remote villages found in and around the valleys surrounding the Alps. They were described as living in caves, tunnels, trees, ruined houses and even crumbling walls. They nest, lay eggs and are said to have a hibernation period during the cold months.
These lizard-like creatures have been written about since the 17th century. Depictions vary greatly from country to country and from century to century. Over the years, several photographs were supposedly taken of this mythical dragon and all were believed or proven to be hoaxes.
The Tatzelwurm were said to hunt in packs while looking for food or described as being lone hunters. They were able to leap great distances and would jump on their victims and then roll around on the ground until they killed their prey.
In Switzerland, the Stollenwurm can have two to six stubby feet, a length of one to seven feet and have cat-like faces. They hiss and make a high-pitched sound that can cause victims to get dizzy. Some accounts say that they could stand as tall as a man and have boar-like bristles running down their backs.
They are also described as sometimes having forked tongues, wide serpent-like heads, with bodies that are covered with hair, having very sharp fangs, clawed feet, emit poisonous gas and issue high pitched screeching sounds.
In Germany, the Tatzelwurm wine fountain is based on the legend that crusader Heinrich killed one of these monsters that was living in Kobern. The Tatzelwurmbrunnen fountain was equipped with taps for wine and water. It became the heart of Kobern and the focal point of the castle festival. The original fountain was destroyed after a binge in 1944.
In 1961 a new statue was created to increase the tourism that had collapsed due to the Second World War. The Tatzelwurm statue can be seen in many pictures taken of the Kobern-Marktplatz surrounded by houses that are adorned with flowers. It is also a popular destination spot for hikers travelling in the area.