Although the earliest written account of the squonk was from the 1910 book fearsome creatures of lumberwood, there are no records of the tale being told in Pennsylvania before the book’s publication. The next written iteration, from the 1939 book Fearsome Critters, suggested that the creatures had migrated from deserts to swamps to finally settle in Hemlock Pennsylvania. As logging camps were continuously moving in the early 20th century, this could explain the “creature’s” migration to Pennsylvania.
Unlike many mythological creatures, the supposed physical characteristics of the squonk remain unchanged from the original written account, which states:
The squonk is of a very retiring disposition, generally traveling about at twilight and dusk. Because of its misfitting skin, which is covered with warts and moles, it is always unhappy…Hunters who are good at tracking are able to follow a squonk by its tear-stained trail, for the animal weeps constantly. When cornered and escape seems impossible, or when surprised and frightened, it may even dissolve itself in tears.
— William T. Cox, “The Squonk”, Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods (1910)
Later retellings included that squonks were slowest on moonlit nights as they try to avoid seeing its ugly appearance in any illuminated bodies of water. In addition to warts and moles, the creatures were given webbed toes on their left feet.
The given “species,” taxonomy of the creature, Lacrimacorpus dissolvens, is made up of the Latin tear, body, and dissolve. These refer to its supposed ability to dissolve when captured.