9 Pennsylvania Cryptids: Appearance, Behavior, and Location

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Written by Katarina Betterton

Published: February 4, 2024

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Cryptids are an interesting group of creatures: they’re studied by cryptozoologists and considered to be animals that exist somewhere on Earth despite little to no scientific evidence for their existence. After all, animals like the okapi and the kangaroo were once considered cryptids until science proved their existence.

In the forests and wilds of Pennsylvania, several interesting cryptids exist. Discover nine ethereal and mysterious Pennsylvania cryptids — including their appearance, their behavior, and the purported location you might find one yourself.

Squonk

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Hemlock forests of Northern Pennsylvania have an interesting cryptid among the trees.

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According to legend, the Squonk is a terribly misunderstood creature so upset with its appearance, that it can dissolve itself into a puddle of tears.

The Squonk lives in the thick hemlock forests of Northern Pennsylvania. There, the wart and mole-covered creature sobs constantly. William T. Cox, the author of Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods and the person who introduced the Squonk to the world, tells readers of his 1910 book to “follow its tear-stained trail” if you’d like to see a Squonk.

Potter County Nondescript

Potter County’s forests host a Bigfoot-esque monster that eats small game.

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In the foggy woods of the Pennsylvanian wilds of Potter County comes the legend of the Potter County Nondescript — a massive hairy creature that scared a fisherman half to death.

April 21, 1897: a newspaper called the Potter Enterprise publishes a story about a fisherman and his experience. Apparently, the man in question — William “Bill” Butler of Denton Hill — had been walking in the woods with his dog and horse when he happened across a hunched-over creature eating a groundhog. 

The Potter County Nondescript looks a little like the drawings and conceptions of Bigfoot. It’s a towering creature over six feet tall covered in hair. It’s bipedal, meaning it stands on two legs, and has six- to seven-inch tusks in its mouth. As for behavior, it’s more skittish than other creatures. Bill’s dog barked at it during the encounter, scaring it away before it attacked Bill.

No one has seen the Potter Nondescript since then. But, you may get the chance if you venture around the Dark Skies landscape in Pennsylvania’s certified International Dark-Sky Park.

Giwoggle

Sproul State Forest

The Giwoggle roams Clinton County forests and keeps to itself.

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Clinton County, Pennsylvania has had its very own “official monster” since 2011: the Giwoggle. 

Like the Potter County Nondescript, the Giwoggle is apparently bipedal. However, folklore describes it as a wolf-like creature with claws for hands and hooves for head. Its first sighting was in 1870 and the local lore explains that a witch conjured the Giwoggle.

As sightings have been few and far between, many consider the Giwoggle to be a solitary creature who prefers to stay away from human society.

Suscon Screamer

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Reports from locals say the Suscon Screamer is much easier heard than seen with it’s terrifying screech.

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In Greater Pittston, Pennsylvania, an unidentified cryptid with a blood-curdling scream has all the locals in a trance. Some believe it’s a pig-like creature while others say it’s a Bigfoot-looking animal. It may or may not have claws or walk on two legs. 

No matter its appearance, the Suscon Screamer lets out a scream near Suscon Road at night that terrifies all who hear it.

Raystown Ray

Ray apparently makes himself known on quiet days at Raystown Lake.

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Pennsylvania has its own Nessie: Raystown Ray, an unidentified marine creature that lives in Raystown Lake. 

The lake, which spans 30 miles wide and 200 feet deep, may be home to a lake monster of undetermined size, a strange shape, and dark colors. The cryptid has garnered dozens of sightings over the years, with the most recent accounts from 2022. It’s a private creature that keeps to itself and tends to bob its head out of the water when it feels safe enough to move.

It’s unclear if Raystown Ray is a single creature or a family, as some sightings place the creature around 20 feet long while others say it is no more than three feet in length.

Susquehanna Seal

The Susquehanna Seal may still lurk in the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania.

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Dating back to the early 1800s is a hippo-dinosaur hybrid cryptid also known as the West Branch Dugong and the Kettle Creek Monster. It’s had few sightings since the 1889 flood of Clinton County, but locals believe the monster still swims within the waters of the county. No one has seen it enough to come up with a depiction of more than a large marine animal.

The earliest accounts make it out to be a fierce creature that actively antagonized and preyed upon fishermen. In the later accounts, locals didn’t see the cryptid but blamed issues like frequently overturned rafts on the Susquehanna Seal.

Bryn Athyn Beast

Bigfoot vs. Yeti: 5 Key Differences

Some describe the Bryn Athyn Beast as Bigfoot-esque.

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When it comes to the woods of Pennsylvania, Bigfoot-like cryptids have their choice of a cozy home. Montgomery County’s own cryptid, the Bryn Athyn Beast, apparently walks on both two and four legs, depending on who you ask.

Like Raystown Ray, this cryptid has had several sightings since the first report. Apparently, the creature is wolf-like and locals describe it as a “dogman.” First spotted in the 1990s, lore characterizes the cryptid as a solitary creature who won’t hesitate to defend itself. For example, the first person to see the Bryn Athyn Beast apparently saw it on an empty baseball field with a friend and decided to chase it. While it ran at first, the cryptid then turned around and chased the duo — who only just escaped its clutches.

Ape Boy of the Chester Swamps

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware.

Delaware County’s Ape Boy escaped to the swamps to hide his appearance.

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In Delaware County, just near Philadelphia, lore claims that a human boy turned into a monster over 250 years ago. The boy, who’d had an unappealing appearance and red hair, ran from his home where he was hated into the nearby swamps. There, he lived a solitary life and became an ape-like creature covered in red hair. 

Today, urban development has destroyed all but a portion of Delaware County’s swamps — with the only remaining part being the regularly-tended John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum. The Ape Boy of the Chester Swamps could have existed at some point, but recent sightings of the cryptid don’t exist.

Jersey Devil

New Jersey Pine Barrens

The Jersey Devil is known to leave the Pine Barrens and head to Philadelphia.

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Sure, the Jersey Devil might be endemic to New Jersey, but Pennsylvanians have claimed to see him around the Philadelphia area at least twice.

The New Jersey Devil is said to have a horse’s head, bat’s wings, and glowing red eyes. It has two long back legs and two short front legs — though locals differ on whether it’s over six feet tall or as small as three feet standing. Described as “very ugly” by the New Jersey government’s website, the Jersey Devil has a reputation for striking fear into the hearts of anyone unlucky enough to cross its path. 

Apparently, the Jersey Devil sleeps during the day but scares people at night. It’s traveled from the Pine Barrens to areas around Philadelphia, where it searches out wetlands to spend its days.

Cryptids in the Keystone State

From the Bryn Athyn Beast to the Giwoggle, Pennsylvania is home to weird and wild creatures locals believe to have seen at one time or another. The next time you’re in Chester County, watch out for the Ape Boy or look over your shoulder in the hemlock forests of Northern Pennsylvania for the Squonk.


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About the Author

Katarina is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on dogs, travel, and unique aspects about towns, cities, and countries in the world. Katarina has been writing professionally for eight years. She secured two Bachelors degrees — in PR and Advertising — in 2017 from Rowan University and is currently working toward a Master's degree in creative writing. Katarina also volunteers for her local animal shelter and plans vacations across the globe for her friend group. A resident of Ohio, Katarina enjoys writing fiction novels, gardening, and working to train her three dogs to speak using "talk" buttons.

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