Yara-ma-yha-who: Australia Cryptid Vampire or Creepy Kids’ Story?

If you’re thinking of venturing alone off into the depths of Australia’s national forests, I’d advise choosing a different path. As a warning for you, hiding amongst the trees, scouting for its next victim, the Yara-ma-yha-who are awaiting their next big meal.



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This week we’re taking a detour to the coastal rainforests of Australia, where a small, ruddy creature is said to be waiting for the opportune moment to make a new friend. Just be careful because if you hang out here too long, you might find you pick up a few of its habits… and looks. 

I’m Cody, and you’re touring Cryptids Across the Atlas. 

Imbil State Forest, AU

If you ever find yourself trekking through the Imbil State Forest in Australia on a beautiful sunny day, I would urge you to stick to the populated trails. Why do you ask? Because while the beautiful coastal rainforest might seem like the tropical oasis of your dreams, what is said to live in the canopies of the mighty fig trees that populate this land is nightmarish enough to make the blood drain from your face, literally. 

What is the Yara-ma-yha-who?

For centuries, children across Australia have been warned to mind their parents and not to venture far off lest they fall victim to the yara-ma-yha-who. The Yara-ma-yha-who is a short, red-colored bipedal toad-like creature. Standing at no more than four feet tall, this vibrantly red and ruddy creature waddles its strikingly hairy body slowly across the earth. But once the Yara-ma-yha-who finds a suitable fig tree to hide away in, it sheds its awkward stride for the agile climbing abilities afforded to it by its hooked suction cup hands and feet. 

Once the Yara-ma-yha-who is safely hidden from sight in the branches of the Australian fig trees, it waits as long as it takes. This is where you come in, should you not heed my previous warning and venture off those beaten trails. Once a passerby stops to rest in the crook of the fig tree, the Yara-ma-yha-who leaps down and overtakes them. Using its suction hands, it grabs hold of its prey and drinks its blood through its sticky fingers until its victim passes out. But it doesn’t end here. 

In true mythological style, this ruddy frog man, with his stretchy body, abnormally large head, and toothless mouth, scoops up its fainted prey whole, unhinging its jaws like a snake. Then, like many of us, after a filling meal, it finds a comfortable spot to lay and take a nap. After it digests its blood meal and drains its prey of energy, it regurgitates them up for another round. 

The good news is that its prey is coughed back up alive – Well, most of the time. But if you do find yourself back out in broad daylight, drained close to dry and covered in cryptid saliva, be sure to play dead. Dead humans are of no use to a hungry Yara-ma-yha-who. But don’t expect this to be the end of your ordeal because the Yara-ma-yha-who are keen on the tactics of humans. 

Once you find yourself back on the receiving end, your best bet is to lay perfectly still until sundown. Yara-ma-yha-who keep a strict sleep schedule, so if you can make it to nightfall, you’ll be safe to make a run for it. But first, you will have to endure an onslaught of checks to make sure you aren’t still alive. According to the legend, the Yara-ma-yha-who will often walk away to observe you from a distance, only to come back and jab you with a stick or tickle you in hopes of getting some response. Yes, not only does it eat you, but it also tickles and pokes you as well. 

This ritual will continue until the sun sets and you are able to make your escape. But there is a glimmer of vengeful good news! Should you escape, the tale states that the spirit of the fig tree will grow angry with the Yara-ma-yha-who. The spirit will then mumble noises only the Yara-ma-yha-who can hear, which will drive him mad and cause him to morph into a glowing tree fungus. 

Every culture needs a good boogieman to help keep rowdy kids in check, and the Yara-ma-yha-who fits the bill a bit too well. But just in case there’s any truth to this twisted fable, it might be a good idea to stick to the trail after all.

Oh, and there’s one more thing I forgot to mention. Every time you get caught by the Yara-ma-yha-who and make it out alive, you don’t walk away completely unscathed. Because when you get home and take a peek in the mirror, you might find yourself a bit shorter and a bit more ruddy than before. Because the Yara-ma-yha-who doesn’t just feed on humans, it transforms them. And the more times you act out and get caught, the more you become like the Yara-ma-yha-who yourself… Until you quite literally become one. 

Maybe that’s why they claim redheads are a little bit crazy.

If you love cryptids and want to learn even more about the creatures we just talked about, find us on Tiktok or Instagram. By the way, the episode you just witnessed is both a podcast and YouTube video, so whichever format you prefer, we have you covered. Also, check out our interactive cryptid map to browse the globe and learn about cryptids from your favorite areas. Every episode we make adds another pin to our map! You can find our social channels, the map, and more at thecryptidatlas.com. And when you find us, be sure to tap that follow button and get in on the action by dropping a comment on our recent videos. 

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Thanks for touring Cryptids Across the Atlas. Until next time, keep your eyes open. You never know what you might see just on the edge of the road. 

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