Everything To Know About The Tsuchinoko, The Creepiest ‘Animal’ You’ve Never Heard Of

The Tsuchinoko is a snake-like animal in Japanese folklore. They are distinguishable by their wide midsections and can grow to be 1-2.5 feet in length.

What is a Tsuchinoko?

Tsuchinoko (n): A Japanese cryptid that resembles a snake with an exceptionally thick middle.

[*] The Japanese word for Tsuchinoko means “child of hammer” or “child of dirt”. The dirt child name may come from it’s appearance, which is sometimes described as entirely black, including the eyes.

[*] Other Tsuchinoko are described as brown, blending in with a forest floor covered in leaves. Tsuchinoko of all colors are often described as having a bright orange belly.

[*] Tsuchinoko can be found in remote locations like mountains and forests, specifically those near Shikoku, Honshu, the Kyushu islands and on the Korean peninsula.

[*] Tsuchinoko sightings date back 1400 years.

What’s the difference between a Tsuchinoko and a snake?

[*] While the Tsuchinoko slither on their belly and are often compared to snakes, you would never mistake the two. Tsuchinoko have a very wide belly and are bigger around the middle than any snake. Their head and tail are the size of a normal snake head and tail, however.

[*] Tsuchinoko can make a chirping or squeaking sound as they move through their environment. It does not make the typical sssss noise of a snake.

[*] One account says that Tsuchinoko snore while sleeping.

Are Tsuchinoko dangerous?

Yes, Tsuchinoko would be dangerous if you ran into one. They are well camouflaged, poisonous, and adept at hunting.

[*] Tsuchinoko are said to be poisonous, having fangs filled with venom in their mouths.

[*] A distinguishing characteristic of a Tsuchinoko is it’s ability to jump three feet in height. It can also perform a second jump while it is already in the air, or use it’s jumping ability to jump forward and strike unsuspecting prey.

[*] One legend says that the Tsuchinoko can bit it’s own tail so that it forms a hoop. It does this in order to roll down a hill at high speeds when it’s chasing prey. This is similar to the Ouroboros in Greek mythology and the legend of the Hoop Snake in urban myths in the US and Canada. The Hoop Snake was documented in a pamphlet about touring the U.S. in 1784. The author wrote, “As other serpents crawl upon their bellies, so can this; but he has another method of moving peculiar to his own species, which he always adopts when he is in eager pursuit of his prey; he throws himself into a circle, running rapidly around, advancing like a hoop, with his tail arising and pointed forward in the circle, by which he is always in the ready position of striking. It is observed that they only make use of this method in attacking; for when they flee from their enemy they go upon their bellies, like other serpents. From the above circumstance, peculiar to themselves, they have also derived the appellation of hoop snakes.”

Margaret R. Tryon

Are Tsuchinoko magic?

[*] Some people claim Tsuchinoko have the ability to speak, but even if you meet a talking Tsuchinoko, they are not to be trusted. Apparently Tsuchinoko are known to lie.

[*] Unlike other animals, Tsuchinoko like the taste of alcohol.


Are Tsuchinoko real?

Tsuchinoko have been recently popularized by making an appearance in many video games including the Pokémon like games Metal Gear Solid 3, Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain, and Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops, in which the Tsuchinoko is edible. Tsuchinoko also appear on the role-playing series Yo-Kai Watch and is an endemic Life creature in Monster Hunter World.

[*] Tsuchinoko have also recently become a Tumblr meme. So some people may be playing up their “experiences” with one of these creatures just because of it’s popularity. Here’s the post that started the new “Tsuchinoko real” craze. This lead to a lot of Tsuchinoko joke content like this “I want to believe” poster featuring a Tsuchinoko.

[*] The government of Yoshii, Okayama once offered a 20 million yen (over $200,000 USD!!!) reward for successful capture of a Tsuchinoko. Another reward was offered for 100 million yen — which is a million US dollars!

[*] You can travel to Japan and hunt for Tsuchinoko on your own. There is a watch point located in Kurosawa, Akaiwa, Okayama pref where a dead Tsuchinoko was once burried. You are asked to leave 100 yen for upkeep of the surrounding area if you chooe to use that location to go on a Tsuchinoko hunt.

Real Tsuchinoko sightings


“I was surprised. I just pointed at it and asked ‘Who are you? Who are you?’ It didn’t answer me, but just stared. It had a round face and didn’t take its eyes off me. I can still see the eyes now. They were big and round and it looked like they were floating on the water. I’ve lived over 80 years, but I’d never seen anything like that in my life.” — a Japanese woman


“a farmer thought he spotted one while cutting grass. He described what he saw as a snake like creature with a face like Doraemon (talk about creepy). The farmer hit the beast with his weed whacker, but the crafty thing managed to escape.” — tofugo.com


“an elderly woman spotted what she thought was a tsuchinoko by a stream. Instead of showing anyone her find or investigating further, she just buried the thing. Eventually, word got out of what the woman had done so the local government sent out a team to dig up the creature and send its remains over to the local university for examination.

The professor who analyzed the thing said that it may indeed have been a Tsuchinoko, but “scientifically speaking, it was a kind of snake.” — tofugo.com

[*] In 2001 the town of Mikata claimed to have captured a Tsuchinoko. They put the animal on display, but declined to do any scientific testing to confirm it’s identity as a Tsuchinoko, saying it “needed to rest”. The captured Tsuchinoko is a meter long with a black body and black tongue.

Where can I find a Tsuchinoko?

[*] Real Tsuchinoko prefer to live near rivers in woods or the mountains. They live on the ground and can be camouflaged into the leaves and ground debris.

[*] To find Tsuchinoko in video games, find a tutorial on YouTube. Here’s where to find the Tsuchinoko in Monster Hunter World. Here’s how to find the Tsuchinoko in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Here’s where to find the Tsuchinoko in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

What should I do if I find a Tsuchinoko?

Turn it in! There are multiple rewards for the live capture of a Tsuchinoko. Finding one could make you very rich. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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