The ahuizotl is a mythological creature from the Aztec mythology and can be likened to that of the kelpie in Celtic myths. The name comes from the Aztec language Nahuatl and means "spiny aquatic thing". It is also called the water dog.
The ahuizotl is described as being the size of a small dog. It has waterproof fur which spikes when the dog leaves water. Instead of paws it has hands like that of a monkey and a human hand is at the tip of the tail allowing the ahuizotl to grab hold of victims to drag into the water.
It is said to live in deep pools of water or caverns. and by most accounts the ahuizotl would snatch people from the water's edge. It would eat the victims eyes, nails and teeth.
The conquistador Hernán Cortés once reported to the king that one of his men was killed by an ahuizotl.
The Ahuizotl in Myth
In mythology the ahuizotl is said to be a friend of the rain gods and a guardian of the lakes. Its purpose is often said to be to protect the fish within the lakes. But in other myths it is said to be sent down by the gods Tlāloc and Chalchiuhtlicue to collect the souls of the mortals the gods liked. Due to this people killed by the ahuizotl is said to come to the paradise of Tlāloc.
Sometimes it is said to take humans who were chosen by the gods because they possessed the wrong type of precious stones.
There are also cases in which fishermen would claim that the ahuizotl would sink their boats. Due to this fishermen sometimes offered a part of their catch to the creature in order to appease it.
In some cases it could mimic the cry of a baby or cause all the frogs in the lake to jump to the surface to lure people close. Usually this would happen when it would have been long since it had eaten.