The Mongolian Death Worm

The Mongolian Death Worm is a cryptid purported to exist in the Gobi Desert.

Aka : Allghoi khorkhoi means “intestine worm”, also known as the Mongolian death worm.


A fat, bright red snakelike animal measuring 0.6 to 1.5 meters (2 to 5 feet) in length, which is vividly likened to a cow’s intestine.

Czech Explorer Ivan Mackerle described the animal from second-hand reports as:

“Sausage-like worm over half a metre (20 inches) long, and thick as a man’s arm, resembling the intestine of cattle. Its tail is short, as [if] it were cut off, but not tapered. It is difficult to tell its head from its tail because it has no visible eyes, nostrils or mouth. Its colour is dark red, like blood or salami…” 


As many invertebrates, worms cannot survive in a brutally hot and dry climate like the Gobi desert. Mackerle has proposed the skink, a strange variety of lizard whose nondescript head is hard to distinguish from its tail.

Skinks also live buried under desert sands but the smooth-bodied death worm has no legs. He has also suggested that it could be a type of lizard called the worm lizard, although that species is not poisonous. Among lizards, only the Mexican beaded lizard and the Gila monster possess poisonous venom, but they do not squirt it, and their venom definitely is not instantly lethal on contact.

The only existing snake that sprays its venom and could survive in the Gobi environment is the death adder, a member of the cobra family but he is found only in Australia and New Guinea and is much smaller. More likely, the death worm is a mythological monster based on an exaggeration of some desert-dwelling snake or reptile, which is not truly as deadly as its reputation would suggest. Another hypothesis is that the Mongolian Death Worm is a type of land-based electric eel, that evolved from thousands of years ago when the Gobi Desert was an inland sea.


The death worm is so feared among the people of Mongolia that many consider the mere mention of its name bad luck. It is attributed with the dramatic ability to kill people and animals instantly at a range of several feet. It is even believed that the worm sprays an immensely lethal poison; a sort of acidic liquid that immediately makes anything it touches turn yellow and corroded. The Worm is also said to have a preference for local parasitic plants such as the Goyo.

The nomads also said that the color yellow attracts the Allghoi khorkhoi. The analogy with the basilick (cockatrix) is strong as this creature has also the power to kill instantaneously anyone who tries to observe it.


Though natives of the Gobi have long told tales of the olgoi-khorkhoi, the creature first came to Western attention Professor Roy Chapman Andrews’ 1926 book On the Trail of Ancient Man.

It was later popularized by Czech author author Ivan Mackerle, who learned about the creature from a female student from Mongolia. After Communism collapsed in Mongolia in 1990, he mounted an expedition to the country’s desert wastes to hunt for the worm. Except a few testimonies from locals, he did not bring back any evidence.

A joint expedition in 2005 by the Centre for Fortean Zoology and E-Mongol investigated new reports and sighting of the creature. They found no evidence of its existence, but could not rule out that it might live in the deep Gobi Desert along the prohibited areas of the Mongolian/Chinese border.

In 2005, zoological journalist Richard Freeman mounted an expedition to hunt for the Death Worm but came up empty-handed. Freeman’s conclusion was that the tales of the worm had to be apocryphal, and that reported sightings likely