The Hunt for 'Dimples', Rochester's Mystery Creature

The Hunt for ‘Dimples’, Rochester’s Mystery Creature

Have you seen ‘Dimples’? If so, Gwen Byrd (and the University of Rochester) wants to hear from you.

For two years, Byrd has been terrorized by a mystery creature that looks like a rodent, moves like a dog, and apparently, is fearless.

Seeking to prove the existence of the animal that she has nicknamed ‘Dimples’, Byrd snapped an image with her digital camera and ran to the internet, seeking help in identifying the creature. “Nobody knows what it is,” she says.


Since it appeared, the creature has been burrowing holes around the Rochester resident’s home, but just as soon as one tunnel has been filled, another appears. It’s even begun scaring her friends and neighbors.

Greg Payne, who mows Byrd’s lawn, recalls a run-in with Dimples:

“I was standing right there and it wasn’t running from me. I almost ran from it. I thought it was a rat, but when it moves, it rises up and then it just walks like a dog.”

Associate professor of biology at the University of Rochester, Vera Gorbunova, took an interest in the animal, visiting Byrd’s property and examining her photo.

In an email to Byrd, Gorbunova wrote, “I am very puzzled by this animal, and so are my colleagues. It looks like a large hairless rodent, but we cannot identify it from the picture.”

Still, there are many, such as Monroe County parks director Larry Staub, who believe that the little beast is simply a hairless groundhog.

“We have seen these in Highland Park, over the years. … The most recent sighting was a few years back. Odd-looking creatures.”

This hasn’t persuaded Byrd, who says that Dimples doesn’t waddle like a groundhog or hop like a squirrel. After receiving over seventy-five suggestions from internet investigators on what the critter might be, from mutant rats to the elusive Chupacabra, she’s taken to placing a $7 bounty on the critter’s head.

The hunt for Dimples isn’t likely to end any time soon, because, just like any good creature feature, Byrd has recently discovered that the monster has a mate.

For more info, visit the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.


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  1. Mr Rat

    05/14/2011 at 5:56 PM

    looks like a capybara to me… now that begs the question how a Rodent Of Unusual Size gets from the Amazon to Albany as it were but that’s a horse (or rat) of a different color.

    • Greg Newkirk

      05/14/2011 at 6:16 PM

      I was thinking the same thing. Escaped pet? Can they even be kept as a pet? They’re bigger than a lot of dogs.

      EDIT: Ok, so maybe not. I’d say that capybaras look a little bit different, but who knows.

      An image of a capybara for comparison against Dimples

      • brazilianjack

        05/16/2011 at 7:22 PM

        Unless it’s a dwarf capybara, I think you are both wrong. The snout of the creture is completely different from its supposed south-american counterparts and they usually get way bigger than Dimples. Most capybaras are the size of a german sheperd…

  2. V. L. Tracy

    05/14/2011 at 7:38 PM

    You might check out a South American Rodent called the Agouti. I believe this animal is smaller than the Capybara.

  3. tony

    05/14/2011 at 11:18 PM

    why doesn’t someone just use a tranquilizer gun on the little animal and find out what it is there would be no point in killing it because it hasn’t done anything to anyone!!

  4. allan john makepeace

    05/15/2011 at 3:55 AM

    could it be a pet/zoo AARVARK that as escaped or as there are now two relised intentionally

  5. MercuryCrest

    05/15/2011 at 10:16 AM

    I first thought, “capybara,” too. Though it appears to be hairless and much smaller in this photo.

    They make wonderful pets, I hear.

  6. Mike

    05/16/2011 at 8:27 AM

    It looks like a squirrel with the mange. I hope that everyone’s Sunday was great and I hope that they have a great week!

    • Dana Newkirk

      05/17/2011 at 2:50 PM

      I was thinking the same thing.

  7. Carlos Martinez

    05/17/2011 at 9:11 AM

    It looks like a small dog with mange to me. I live near a poor area in the outskirst of Mexico City and have seen some mangy dogs, mostly muttsm, that look a little bit weird. The way the animal appears in the picture reminds me of a little dog being scared.

  8. Dana Newkirk

    05/17/2011 at 2:50 PM

    Nude squirrel. Case solved.

  9. Jeff Davis

    05/18/2011 at 8:03 AM

    It looks like an old Agouti without hair. Most likely a cross between an agouti (which have assuredly be imported through the pet trade as I owned one for several years)and some other rodent. The absence of hair may be the result of the poor critter’s environment or disease.

  10. Nukodes

    05/27/2011 at 1:56 PM

    Who Forted is awesome, bookmarked!

  11. beton

    06/09/2011 at 3:24 PM is amazing, bookmarked!

  12. MDEM

    05/31/2012 at 8:09 PM

    My daughter spotted on in her sub-division this very evening.

  13. fresh

    03/26/2013 at 9:54 AM

    It could be a Nutria….fairly common in the Southern parts of America.

  14. Rich

    04/01/2014 at 4:46 PM

    It appears to be a mange-ridden rat who has lost most of its hair.

  15. DDBB19

    09/22/2016 at 11:45 PM

    Looks like a hairless Prairie Dog to me.

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