Teakettler (Latin name: unknown.) - [Fearsome Critter.]
• About this critter: The "Teakettler" also known as the "Wild Teakettle" - at its roots, is probably best described as an audio phenomena, in it has never been properly captured or seen, between early accounts, it lacks a consistent description... At least outside of the noise from which it gets its name; it is said to make a sound resembling that of the ringing of a boiling teakettle! - As the myth goes, few lumberjacks have ever seen one because it is shy, At the creature's earliest roots, It is a unknown small animal reported by Hunters and Trappers originating in Minnesota; and was used to explain the startling phenomena of hearing the sound of a boiling teakettle in the woods, when there was no other source possible, if a boiling kettle is heard and nowhere to be found, it is sure that a "Teakettler" was nearby.
The creature was sometimes described as having a long snout, with clouds of vapour issuing from its nostrils, hissing loudly when threatened. - Hunters & Trappers would blame it for startling hissing noises, rising steam, as well as for leaving large, snowshoe-shaped tracks in the snow which seem to lead in opposite directions, (one east and one west) leading nowhere, it was said that the creature was hard to track as it also "walked backwards by choice."
The idea that "It resembles a small stubby-legged dog with the ears of a cat." is a modern concept and seems to stem from a misquote on Wikipedia.*
• History, Variants & Timeline: The first & earliest published, named description of the "Teakettler" (which seems to be based on earlier oral accounts.) is 1939's "Paul Bunyans Natural History." it goes as follows:
"TEAKETTLER. – A small animal which obtains its name from the noise which it made, resembling that of a boiling teakettle. Clouds of vapor issued from its nostrils. It walked backward from choice. But few woodsmen have ever seen one. "
Included in the 1940s "Minnesota History" [p353-356] is a more detailed account given by a Marine [& scoutleader] named "Marjorie Edgar" who recounted their time working on the north shore of lake superior (1927 - 1928) they recount several tales of the "Imaginary animals of Northern Minnesota" including an animal called the "Wild Teakettle" – "Even in 1928 it was becoming rare, but it could be heard sometimes in the cutover and second-growth woods, hissing away like a boiling teakettle. In the scrubby woods which used to be called "the bush” it might be seen with the steam rising from its mouth, which was shaped like a spout. " they go onto mention that although they could not ever get a proper description of what the animal looked like "it must have had very odd feet, for in winter it leaves tracks in the snow that look like snowshoe tracks, but they go in opposite directions. — one going east and one west, just to fool you.” – [Note: 'Snowshoe-tracks' like this are a trait often shared with another critter called "The Swamp Gaboon" as well as some earlier depictions of "Snowsnake"] – Marjorie goes on to mention that "It is easy to see why this animal has never been trapped, The wild teakettle is not dangerous, but it seems to have a bad temper, and hisses loudly when angry."
• In 1944's "Tall Tale America a legendary history of our humorous heroes" it is mentioned that Paul Bunyan "Tackled a teakettler and found that It always walked backwards, so he had it bump into sticky things until it was so full of panic that it fled to Kiska, Alaska." The creature's temper is described near identically as to how it is above. (This same type of ill tempred teakettler also gets a very breif mention in 1959s paul bunyan by Dolbier Maurice.)
• In 1947, the Chigaco Sun ran an article titled "Paul Bunyan a Liar? An Expert Says: 'No And Then Tells Why." this article included a photo of julian lee rayford singing a paul bunyan song in front of several drawings of critters (presumably drawn by him?) - Getting to the point, he had described "The teakettler" as "thoughtful, always knowing where its been." - (a description that is curiously similar to the Goofus birds.) - Worth note as in my searches: this is the also earliest depiction of the critter that I could find!
• in 1957, The most 'famous account' of the teakettler is given by Jorge Luis Borges under "Fauna of the United States" included in his Book of Imaginary Beings -However, Borges's description was copied nearly word for word from the previously quoted "Paul Bunyans Natural History" and he did not add anything to the creature's lore. (Note: Wikipedia has misquoted this passage since 2010*)
[a snapshot from my personal copy of the book.]
• Curiously, another "off" description is also given in "Wisconsin lore" 1962 (& its reprints) by Robert E Gard. The Teakettler is instead described as a "smaller" version of the ToteRoad Shagamaw, with the forelegs of a bear and the hind legs of a moose (it even eats clothing!) - Note: perhaps this was a printing error? as the other included descriptions match "Paul Bunyans Natural History" nearly word for word, however, the name has been changed to "Paul Bunyans Wisconsin Natural History" (& i can't find any other mention of the teakettler quite like this, so I'd assume it to be an error & if not then perhaps a Wisconsin variant!)
• The 'Teakettler' was also included in "Gilly Galoos and Gollywhoppers: tall tales about mythical monsters" (1969) it is illustrated as a literal teakettle with small legs and a tail, The short poem goes as follows: "The Teakettler is a brown little beast, though sometimes there's a green one. White whistling steam comes from its snout. some people have never seen one!"
• From '71 through to the 80's the critter was popularly included in the 'Mcbrooms zoo' series of books & surrounding media, wherein it was dubbed "The Silver Tailed Teakettler" this variant of the critter takes on a more crane-like appearance, it is tall, crane-like has backward legs, green feathers (making this variant feel closer to a goofus bird again.) and a brilliant silver tail, from its mouth it spurts steam. - Promo for the book also appeared in Boys life magazine with its own unique illustrations:
• in 1978 the Wild Teakettle was again included in "Mythical creatures of the USA and Canada" by Walker D Wyman who put an emphasis on the creatures tracks, he adds that perhaps the sight of steam was actually rising from tiny underground streams and springs on cold winter days. he also makes note that the creature, in fact does not have a classification or a Latin name. - He also sources Marjories account as the earliest source on the creature.
[the Wikipedia article with the misquote highlighted]
Since about 2010, The Teakettlers article on Wikipedia has incorrectly quoted Borges (1957) description, adding the line: "It is said to resemble a small, stubby legged dog with the ears of a cat." [which leads most armchair critter enthusiasts to interpret it as a corgi.] - This description infact,does not appear in any earlier literature!! - [as others have pointed out: "The request for additional sources, dates long back, all the way to 2011! - that’s more than a decade for someone’s invention to seep into most modern depictions of this fearsome critter."]
Further bestiaries & other articles on the subject of critters also tend to mimic this "error." - The misquote seems to have been further spread through other Wikipedia articles & modern bestiary entries about the creature. [Most notably, the cryptidz wiki (& others] The misquote & illustrations included there, seems to have caused a "canine/corgi boom" throughout the 2010s til today, its to a point that 'a short legged dog' has become the most popular way to depict the critter in the modern day. - This is despite the fact that none of the earlier source materials actually mentions what kind of animal it might resemble! - I'd suppose that stands as a reminder to not trust Wikipedia as a source and always research something thoroughly before lifting your pen!
-- HOWEVER!! - All of that said, at the same time: 'fearsome critters' by definition are capricious, they were often invented with the intent of hazing newcomers: so by all accounts, the misinformation is also fitting?- I'd like to state, for the record, There's absolutely no reason why the Teakettler couldn't be a small dog too, The whole point was that the creature was described vaguely & meant to be left to the tenderfoot beaver scouts imagination, theres nothing stopping you from interpreting it however you like!
[That said, as a folklorist: I would also like to note that Welsh Corgis by their homeland's standards also have their own rich fae lore to them~!!! - I'd highly encourage my readers to look up Corgis as according to Welsh legend as Corgis have long been said to have been used by fairies, to pull carts and ride them like horses into combat!! (I'll probably cover that in more detail another time I'm sure.)]
--At the End of the day, The teakettler is however a green newcomer might have imagined it to have looked like! (perhaps they become more dog like when domesticated) - For the sake of future classification: if one wanted to, they could also classify this corgi-like 'Modern Teakettler' variant under its supposed latin name (Urocyon iugulebesonia.) and keep the "Wild Teakettler" & "Ssilver tailed teakettlers" as their own unique creatures. - Just be sure to note the differences between each to avoid confusion!! ;)
Sticker Art by @samkalensky part of my fearsome critters collection of stickers! Please check my shop for many more! • Note to self, get some pictures the next time it snows!!