21 minutes | Oct 30, 2017

Episode 039: The Devil’s Footprints

Happy Halloween, everyone! This week’s episode is about a spooky occurrence in 1855, where people in Devon woke to find small hoofprints all over the place, even on roofs. Join us in an attempt to figure out just what animal might have made the devil’s footprints! The footprints as drawn by the Rev. Ellacombe from newspaper accounts: The h*ckin adorable wood mouse: Link to lots of pictures of jumping wood mice omg Wood mouse prints from jumping, from Leutscher via Dash (see further reading, below): Mystery print from 2009: Further reading: The Devil’s Hoofmarks: Source Material on the Great Devon Mystery of 1855 edited by Mike Dash HALLOWEEN BONUS AW YISS! I've unlocked the following Patreon bonus episodes so everyone can listen. You should be able to open them in your browser without needing a Patreon login: Animals That Glow The Beast of Busco Weird Teeth Carnivorous Plants Also thank you for buying a lot of copies of my book Skytown: Amazon USA Amazon UK Show transcript: Welcome to Strange Animals Podcast Halloween episode for 2017. I’m your host, Kate Shaw. This is the best time of the year if you like candy, ghost stories, monsters, wearing spooky costumes, and buying all the bat decorations in Target. I have so many bat decorations. I’ve stopped taking them down after Halloween and my room looks like a bat cave. Before we get started, a quick heads-up that I’ve unlocked a few of the older Patreon bonus episodes so that anyone can listen to them. They won’t show up in your feed but I have links to the specific episodes in this week’s show notes so you can go listen to them in your browser if you’re interested. You don’t even need a Patreon login. I hope you enjoy them as an extra Halloween treat. Another reminder that I have a novel available through Fox Spirit Books. It’s called Skytown and it’s a fun steampunk adventure story. I’ll put a link in the shownotes if you want to learn more. Oh, and if you want a Strange Animals Podcast sticker, just send me your mailing address at strangeanimalspodcast@gmail.com and I’ll mail you one! Now, on with the spooky Halloween episode! This week’s episode is something that has baffled me since I read about it as a kid. It’s baffled everyone for more than 150 years. I’ll tell you now that while I make one suggestion that seems plausible to me, it’s by no means a perfect match for the creature that made…the devil’s footprints. /reverb reverb reverb The winter of 1855 was especially bitter in England. Around Devon, the rivers froze solid and temperatures stayed below freezing almost every day and night from January to March. On the night of February 8 it snowed, but towards dawn a brief thaw turned the falling snow to rain before the temperature dropped again and a frost fell. When residents of Devon woke on the morning of February 9, they found some 4” of snow on the ground, or 10 cm. They also found small hoofprints everywhere. These weren’t ordinary hoofprints. A donkey or pony hadn’t gotten loose during the night and wandered around. Some of the prints did look like a donkey’s, but some appeared cloven, more like a large goat’s hoof. And the stride was short, only about 8” between most prints, or a little over 20 cm, sometimes about double that. Besides, the prints appeared in places where a donkey couldn’t possibly have left prints: on rooftops, inside gardens with tall walls and locked gates. Even a nimble goat couldn’t have managed that without someone hearing a goat bounding around. Sometimes a line of prints would walk right up to an obstacle, like a haystack or hedge, and continue on the other side as though the obstacle didn’t exist. Tracks began or ended abruptly as though the animal had dropped from or flown into the sky. And there were untold thousands of the prints. Some villages had prints in almost every yard. They appeared in churchyards among gravestones,
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