Do you want a “Wolpertinger” as a pet?

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Living in Münich is equal to discover always something new such was the Wolpertinger in the German Hunting and Fishing museum on the other day. I have always loved the examples of taxidermy more than anything else on display in all museums of Nature I have ever been, because I think it is always a great opportunity to study the creatures (living, extinct or threatened) and their habitats and taxidermy used to be one of the few ways to see wildlife up close. Men have been stuffing animal skins for hundred years, yet the art of taxidermy-mounting or reproducing dead animals for display or for other sources of study-was not perfected until the early 20st century. However the era has passed but the beauty of these vintage specimens lives on.

My preceding statement is well demonstrated in the Hunting and Fishing museum in Münich. However until I entered I have never heard of a kind of taxidermy technology called rogue taxidermy. It might represent unrealistic hibrids species that not exist in nature, such as unicorns and dragons- (and there is also an another technology called anthropomorphic taxidermy, in which stuffed animals are posed in human activities and are often dressed in clothing. Such as Peter Rabbit style, the latter I really despise). But spending quite a time in the German Hunting and Fishing museum I was totally enchanted by a magical creature the wolpertinger!

What is a wolpertinger?

In Bavarian folklore, a wolpertinger (also called wolperdinger, poontinger or woiperdinger the current name may vary slightly, depending on the area) is an animal said to inhabit the alpine forests of Bavaria in Germany. It has a body comprised from various animal parts — generally wings, antlers, tails and fangs, all attached to the body of a small mammal. The most widespread description is that of a horned rabbit or a horned squirrel.

Actually the wolpertinger was mentioned first by Brothers Grimm in 1753 in their book of Collection of German legends, and it was called Kreißl. But in the Hunting and Fishing Museum of Munich shall have the title on glass formers from the town Wolterdingen back at Donaueschingen. These exhibited shot glasses made in the form of animal figures, which were generally called Wolterdinger. Which explanation is the correct one I don’t know but the issued copies of the museum is a prepared brats show mostly with a horned rabbit’s head. The body is usually the extremities of various animal species shall be added. Thus, the wolpertinger had often wings instead of forelegs and hind legs are formed with the feet of waterfowl. The compilation was left to the imagination of the taxidermist.

Wolpertingers around the world

The Elwetritsch (aka Elwedritsch, Ilwedritsch in Latin bestia palatinensis) is also a kind of wolpertinger, a birdlike mythical creature which is reported to be found in South-West-Germany, especially in Palatinate. The Elwetritsch can be seen as a local equivalent to mythical creatures of other regions, i.e. the Bavarian Wolpertinger or the Thuringian Rasselbock. For the origin, at least from the Palatinate further argument that the Palatine Germans who emigrated to Pennsylvania, America, had some “Elbedritschlicher” taken with them, “said she ate identify Heemweh grigg deede” (High German, literally, so they no would get homesick). There are also stories of Elwetritsche at the Amish occupied. A (English) newspaper of the Pennsylvania German Society in Kutztown, entitled It Elbedritsch.

Anyway the Elwedritsch had been quite forgotten in a while, till a Gentleman, named Espenschied “rediscovered” them. He began to organize “Hunting Parties” which were nothing more than playing a harmless prank on people. One of the Bavarian Kings was once served roasted, small birds for dinner, which were declared to be Elwetritsche, but were actually Quail.

In English speaking countries the name of the wolpertinger is: jackalope. Originally that creature was a mythical animal of North American folklore (a so-called “fearsome critter”) described as a jackrabbit with antelope horns or deer antlers and sometimes a pheasant’s tail (and often hind legs). The word jackalope is a portmanteau of “jackrabbit” and “antalope”, an archaic spelling of antelope. The jackalope has bred the rise of many outlandish (and largely tongue-in-cheek) claims as to the creature’s habits. For example, it is said to be a hybrid of the pygmy-deer and a species of “killer rabbit”. Reportedly, jackalopes are extremely shy unless approached. Legend also has it that female jackalopes can be milked as they sleep belly up and that the milk can be used for a variety of medicinal purposes. It has also been said that the jackalope can convincingly imitate any sound, including the human voice. It uses this ability to elude pursuers, chiefly by using phrases such as “There he goes! That way!” It is said that a jackalope may be caught by putting a flask of whiskey out at night. The jackalope will drink its fill of whiskey and its intoxication will make it easier to hunt. In some parts of the United States it is said that jackalope meat has a taste similar to lobster. However, legend has it that they are dangerous if approached. It has also been said that jackalopes will only breed during electrical storms including hail, explaining its rarity. As a predator eats the jackalope smaller animals, but also herbs and roots, but according to the Hunting and Fishing Museum in Munich, he eats only “Prussian soft skulls.” yakk…

According to other stories jackalope is considered to be very shy. The different types of hunting it differ significantly from region to region. A well-known hunting rule is: “Wolpertinger can only be seen by young, good-looking women, if they are in the twilight with full moon of the company to entrust a right, hearty man image that knows the right places at the remote edges of the forest” Another rule states that you can only catch him when he sprinkled salt on its tail. Also familiar is the way to strike out at full moon with a candle, a bag, a stick and a shovel. The bag is held open by the stick and the candle is placed before the opening of the bag. If the jackalope attracted by the candle light, you can help him with the spade driven into the bag. It has been handed a different method: An outline describing the jackalope with different lengths of right and left legs, so that it can only run on free-standing hills in a specified direction. If it manages to scare him so that he repents and wants to run, he inevitably falls over and can be captured quickly.

The Bunyip is a legendary animal that is based on the stories of Aboriginal people in the rivers, water holes and swamps of Australia to live.

The skvader is a Swedish fictional creature was constructed in 1918 by the taxidermist Rudolf Granberg and is permanently displayed at the museum at Norra Berget in Sundsvall. It has the forequarters and hindlegs of a hare (Lepus), and the back, wings and tail of a female wood grouse (Tetrao urogallus). It was later jokingly given the Latin name Tetrao lepus pseudo-hybridus rarissimus L.

The skvader originates from a tall tale hunting story told by a man named Håkan Dahlmark during a dinner at a restaurant in Sundsvall in the beginning of the 20th century. To the amusement of the other guests, Dahlmark claimed that he in 1874 had shot such an animal during a hunt north of Sundsvall. On his birthday in 1907, his housekeeper jokingly presented him with a painting of the animal, made by her nephew and shortly before his death in 1912, Dahlmark donated the painting to a local museum. During an exhibition in Örnsköldsvik in 1916 the manager of the museum became acquainted with the taxidermist Rudolf Granberg. He then mentioned the hunting story and the painting and asked Granberg if he could re-construct the animal. In 1918 Granberg had completed the skvader and it has since then been a very popular exhibition item at the museum, which also has the painting on display.

PS: Stuffed “wolpertingers” are displayed in inns or sold to tourists as souvenirs all over in Germany in their “native place”. But in the “Deutsches Jagd- und Fischerei”-Hunting and Fishing- museum in Munich, features a permanent exhibit on the creature.


One thought on “Do you want a “Wolpertinger” as a pet?

    Naz Kovacs said:
    November 11, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Interesting and kind of scary haha!

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