A capybara stands under a stream of hot water to keep warm during a snowy day in its enclosure at Saitama Children's Zoo, near Tokyo. (Koji Sasahara/AP)

Even though Texas State University has conducted DNA tests on several corpses of animals that were thought to be the mythical creatures, and even though they “turn out to be wild dogs, foxes or coyotes,” chupacabra spottings occur every year.

The potential sighting teases our imagination. Online, where rumors love to run wild, the stories spread even further. Over the past few days in Maryland, there have been sightings of an animal with the “tail of a rat, the ears of a coyote and the head of a deer” that had folks thinking chupacabra. Our colleague Justin Jouvenal talked to a local official who identified it as a “fox with mange,” but some readers refuse to take the official statement. The theories about the animal run from lab-created beasts to a real chupacabra at last found.

It is hardly an isolated case of chupacabra fever.

In July, a Texas teenager claims to have shot an animal that was a chupacabra. In January, one supposedly was seen in Kentucky. Further adding to the mayhem, capybaras have been spotted in Los Angeles. These are actually real animals — a type of rodent that lives in South America. But the familiar sounding name has added to the fiery interest online. Here is a graph of search queries on Google in the previous 12 months with peaks corresponding to supposed sightings:

Can the capybara use this moment to draft behind the popularity of its pseudonymously similiar mystical cousin and build it’s own online legend? Only time will tell, but there is a template for real animals and it starts with a wisecracking twitter account. Just ask the Bronx Zoo’s Cobra.