One housewife, Suad Hassan, 30, claimed she had been attacked by one of the animals as she slept. “My husband hurried to shoot it but it was as swift as a deer,” she said. “It is the size of a dog but his head is like a monkey.” UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer said: “We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area.”
Several of the creatures, caught and killed by local farmers, have been identified by experts as honey badgers. Mushtaq Abdul-Mahdi, director of Basra’s veterinary hospital, confirmed the animals were honey badgers.
“They are known locally as Al-Girta. Talk that this animal was brought by the British forces is incorrect and unscientific,” he said.
It’s believed the badgers have been driven towards the city by flooding in marshland north of Basra but the assurances have done little to convince some members of the public.
In a classic case of Arab conspiracy theories run wild, locals blamed the recent sitings on the British troops in the area. The rumors spread because the animals had appeared near the British base at Basra airport.
The honey badgers are not native to the particular area, so villagers were alarmed by the creatures.
Although not a monster they are known as being one of the most vicious animals in the world and regularly eats poisonous snakes.
The honey badger has quite a reputation as a fearless (and fearsome!) animal, and it is often said that it has no enemies apart from other honey badgers, and humans. The species is certainly very well equipped to fight back against almost anything that attacks it. Like the true badgers, Mellivora has powerful jaws, and can produce offensive secretions from its anal glands. As a further defence, it also has an extremely loose, tough, rubbery skin, which is resistant to bites from other animals. It is said that the honey badger can twist around in its skin, so that it can bite an attacker even when it is being held by the back of the neck.
The honey badger also has a reputation for killing animals by attacking the scrotum; the victim then bleeds to death. It is alleged that the ratel has, through its attacks, castrated various mammal species, including humans.