A hairy humanoid, the Skunk Ape has been part of North American lore for many years, with stories especially common in the southeastern states of Florida, North Carolina, and Arkansas.
Reportedly sighted in many parts of North America – but particularly the South – the black or brown-haired Skunk Ape is thought to live in swamps.
Similar to, but not the same as, Bigfoot, the Skunk Ape is said to be Bigfoot’s southern cousin. But it also has different physical characteristics and habits.
These creatures seem to come in two, or perhaps three, varieties. This is partly because the stories have changed over time but partly because cryptozoologists have different ideas about what constitutes a Skunk Ape.
However, there is one characteristic that is universally agreed upon: the smell. This is seemingly unique to the Skunk Ape (hence the name, of course), and the odor is alleged to be so bad it is nauseating.
In terms of appearance, the Skunk Ape is supposed to be large – similar in size to Bigfoot. The average height seems to be around 6 feet, but some reports mention creatures of up to 10 feet.
The creatures are sometimes said to have large heads relative to their bodies. The head is supposed to be more like a monster than an ape.
Interestingly, the toes of the Skunk Ape are thought to vary in number, with three-toed prints often found. It is deemed unlikely that a primate could have evolved to have such a foot, posing some unanswered biological questions.
The majority of the Skunk Apes are said to be bipedal, but they have allegedly been known to run on all fours on occasion.
Skunk Apes are said to have certain paranormal features, including glowing eyes and bulletproof bodies.
They are certainly classed as carnivorous and predatory, with numerous reports of them attacking and eating dogs and livestock. It is thought that humans are safe from their attention.
Some examples of famous Skunk Apes include the Honey Island Swamp Monster, the Fouke Monster, the Myakka Skunk Ape, the Holopaw Gorilla, and the Abominable Swamp Slob.
Sightings and Tales
The earliest stories of Skunk Ape sightings come from the Native American Seminole tribes. They told these stories to the European explorers, who then reported their own encounters with the mercurial Skunk Ape.
Actually, the early European explorers might have had a terrifying time with a Skunk Ape. According to accounts from the early 19th century, a violent meeting between a Skunk Ape and some settlers ended with much bloodshed – and the eventual killing of the beast.
The survivors supposedly examined the creature’s body, finding it to be 13 feet long and weighing in excess of 1000 pounds.
Unsurprisingly, the men were in a rush to leave the area in case they came under further attack, so they left the body behind. What happened to the body is unknown.
The Fouke Beast terrorized an Arkansas family
A Skunk Ape known as the Fouke Beast is said to have terrorized a family in the Boggy Creek area in Fouke, Arkansas, in the 1970s.
The unfortunate family lived in fear of the creature, and it even made off with some of their livestock. These events inspired the 1973 film The Legend of Boggy Creek.
Reports of the Fouke Beast actually date back to 1932.
There was a spate of sightings in 1974 in the Miami–Dade suburbs, and various other reports of the Skunk Ape date back to the 1960s.
In 1977, a Skunk Ape ventured as far south as the Florida Keys when the Stoeckmann family of Key Largo claimed that one of the creatures stormed through their backyard.
It was 8 feet tall and weighed approximately 500 pounds. The beast left its footprints nearby, and Mr. Stoeckmann even managed to get a photo with his Instamatic camera.
The Myakka Skunk Ape came to the media’s attention in 2000 when a number of photos surfaced of a large creature lurking in some bushes, prompting some experts to proclaim that it was a Skunk Ape.
The story behind the photos involves a woman whose apples kept being stolen. She had seen a strange animal near her house for a few nights, eventually managing to take a few snaps of the beast and sending them, anonymously, to the local sheriff’s office.
The creature resembled an orangutan, but unfortunately, the photos have no sense of scale. The woman did not come forward to provide any further information.
More recently, in 2013, Mike Falconer and his son took some video footage of what may be a Skunk Ape in Myakka River State Park in Sarasota County.
Dave Shealy’s famous Skunk Ape video footage
In 1974, 10-year-old Dave Shealy saw his first Skunk Ape in what would later become the Big Cypress National Preserve in southern Florida. In the next four decades, Shealy became Florida’s leading expert on the Skunk Ape and saw the creature another four times.
In July 2000, Shealy managed to get a full two minutes worth of video footage of a Skunk Ape as it marched around a patch of palm trees.
The large hairy cryptid silently walked around the trees before seemingly realizing it was being filmed and ran off in the opposite directions.
Shealy has countered claims that it was simply a man in a suit by pointing out the creature was in a swamp covered by over a foot of water but still managed to move at about 20 Mph. Readers can check out the footage in the list of videos below.
|Other Name/s||Swamp Ape, Fouke Beast, Honey Island Swamp Monster, Holopaw Gorilla, Abominable Swamp Slob|
Where to find
Shealys Official Skunk Ape Headquarters
newanimal.org, “The Cryptid Zoo: Skunk-Apes,” accessed October 06, 2017,
exemplore.com, “Bigfoot in Florida: Skunk Ape Sightings,” accessed October 6, 2017,
miaminewtimes.com, “Skunk Ape Sighting Reported in Florida,” accessed October 06, 2017,
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/trail-floridas-bigfoot-skunk-ape-180949981/, “On the Trail of Florida’s Bigfoot—the Skunk Ape,” accessed March 8, 2023.
- The Skunk Ape is the south’s version of Bigfoot, with some key differences. Pic credit: History
Last modified on March 8th, 2023 at 3:27 pm