The Elwetritsch is a bird- or fowl-like cryptid from German folklore.

The creature is supposedly native to the forests of the Palatinate region of southwest Germany. However, the folklore occurs in various locales spread over a wide area of southern Germany.

The Elwetritsch is only one of several mythical birds from German folklore. Other regions of the country also have legends about similar mythical birdlike creatures.


Folklore claims (bizarrely) that the Elwetritsch came from mating land fowls (order Galliformes) and waterfowls (order Anseriformes) such as quails, partridges, pheasants, chickens, ducks, or geese with mythical beings such as brownies, gnomes, goblins, pixies, and elves.

The resulting crossbreeding produced a quail- or chicken-like cryptid with scales instead of feathers, a long beak, and oversized stag antlers. The creature is also winged but flightless. It runs around on the forest floor in thickly wooded areas.

Folk representations of the cryptid often show it with a woman’s breasts (mammary glands). It also supposedly lays eggs.

Elwetritsch origins

People native to the Palatinate Forest region and neighboring areas have shared stories about the mythical birdlike creature for generations.

Several municipalities and towns in the German Rhineland-Palatinate, such as Dahn and Neustadt an der Weinstraße, are associated with Elwetritsch traditions.

Many Palatinate cities and municipalities host Elwetritsch monuments such as fountains. Multiple groups and clubs also promote Elwetritsch traditions and organize events.

German-speaking immigrants brought the folklore to the U.S. People from the Rhineland settled in Pennsylvania in the 17th- and 18-centuries. They are known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.

The cryptid is known as the Elbedritsch in the Pennsylvania Dutch communities. There are also traces of the folklore among Amish communities in Pennsylvania.

The Elwetritsch hunt prank

The hunt prank features in Elwetritsch traditions of southwest Germany.

A folklorist reportedly introduced the hunt prank to promote the legend of the birdlike cryptid.

The hunt typically involves a participant who acts as the catcher. The catcher is usually the target of the prank. The catcher is supposed to catch the Elwetritsch in a sack after the beaters flush it out of the bush into the forest clearing.

The hunting party, including the catcher and beaters, assemble as planned at a pub. They then go into the forest in the evening to hunt for the mythical creature.

The beaters tell the catcher to wait in a clearing with a sack and a lantern while they go into the forest to flush out the creature.

The lantern light is supposed to lure the Elwetritsch to the catcher who should grab it and put it in his sack. But while the catcher waits in the forest for the mythical animal to appear, the beaters return to the pub to wait for the catcher to realize he’s fallen for a prank.

What is the Elwetritsch?

Some folklorists speculated that wild rabbits with a condition caused by the Shope papilloma virus inspired folk ideas about bird-like cryptid with antlers.

The Shope papilloma virus (SPV), also known as Kappapapillomavirus 2 or cottontail rabbit papillomavirus (CRPV), may cause keratinous tumors to grow on any of various parts of the animal’s body, including the head.

Tumors on the head of the rabbit sometimes look like antlers.

Sightings and Tales

The Elwetritsch is a subject of folklore and fictional narratives. There are no publicly known or widely acknowledged claims of sightings.

Mythical birds similar to the Elwetritsch

There are few mythical creatures in German folklore similar to the Elwetritsch.

The Wolpertinger

The wolpertinger (Wolperdinger, Woipertingers, Volpertinger) is a cryptid that supposedly lives in the forests of Bavaria, Southern Germany.

Folklore describes it as a rabbit-squirrel chimera with pheasant legs, wings, and deer antlers.

The wolpertinger’s resemblance to the Elwetritsch is due to its alleged deer antlers, wings, and pheasant legs.


The Rasselbock is another cryptid in German folklore.

It is identical to the Jackalope, a mythical creature in American folklore. Like the Jackalope, the Rasselbock is a rabbit with deer antlers.

Other Name/sElwedritsch, Ilwedritsch


http://www.heimat-pfalz.de/regioreport/127-elwetritsch-das-ding-aus-dem-wald.html, “Elwetritsch – The thing from the forest,” accessed and translated from German language on March 3, 2023.

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