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Ratels were the inspiration for the killer badger myth.

The killer badger is a creature found in a number of modern urban myths from Basra (Al Basrah) province, Iraq, where it was said to have attacked both people and livestock. It has since been identified as the ratel, inflated by rumor.[1]

In mid 2007 urban myths began circulating in Basra City, Iraq, saying that UK troops stationed in the city's airport had released a number of dangerous man-eating creatures into the area in order to spread panic among the local population. The stories described the creature as being black and about 1 m in length, with a monkey-like face and a good turn of speed. It was accused of attacking local farmers and their families and was blamed for cattle deaths.[1] British forces quickly denied that they had released the creature.[1]

Soon after the stories began to circulate a number of local farmers produced animal carcasses that were said to be of the creature, and which they were said to have shot after they intruded on their land. Some of the carcasses were subsequently brought to Basra's veterinary hospital where they were identified as being ratels, also known as Al-Ghirayri or al-Girta, a nocturnal carnivore and a member of the Mustelidae family.[1] Video footage of similar carcasses also appeared on the internet, apparently confirming the identity of the creature as a Ratel. While previously rare near Basra, the Ratel has long been known to inhabit southern Iraq. According to Dr Ghazi Yaqub Azzam, deputy Dean of the Basra veterinary college, the animals were likely brought into contact with the local population as a result of efforts to re-flood marshland to the north of Basra city that had previously been drained by Saddam Hussein as part of his campaign against the Marsh Arab population.[1]

It was widely alleged that the British military had introduced the "giant man-eating badgers." UK military spokesman Major Mike Shearer denied the rumors, saying "We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area."[2] The director of Basra's veterinary hospital, Mushtaq Abdul-Mahdi, pointed out that the animals had appeared in the area prior to 1986, and are known locally as Al Girta.


  1. ^ a b c d e Weaver, Matthew (2007-07-12), "Basra badger rumour mill", The Guardian (2007-07-16)
    Philp, Catherine (2007-07-12), "Bombs, guns, gangs - now Basra falls prey to the monster badger", The Times (2007-07-16)
    Baker, Graeme (2007-07-13), "British troops blamed for badger plague" The Telegraph (2007-07-16)
    BBC News (2007-07-12) "British blamed for Basra badgers", BBC (2007-07-16)
  2. ^ "British blamed for Basra badgers". BBC News. 2007-07-12. Retrieved 2007-07-13.  


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