Rumors have been spreading in the Iraqi port city of Basra that giant, man-eating badgers have begun to stalk the city at night. Many believe that British military forces stationed in the area released the creatures. A spokesman for the British forces said this: “We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area.”
Iraqi scientists believe that the offending creatures are much more likely to be a type of Honey Badger, or Ratel, than a genetically engineered weapon of the Brits. However, the badgers are reported to have killed livestock on the outskirts of the city, and even to have attacked some humans, and many insist that these incidents began only after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and so the rumors are dying hard.
Ratels are in fact native to the region, but are nocturnal and generally avoid humans. They are also fearsome hunters, with prey ranging from earthworms to small crocodiles, and have been known to attack animals much larger than themselves.
Also, Wikipedia’s entry on Ratels includes this statement: “Several African tribes report that the honey badger attacks the scrotum of larger mammals if provoked and has even castrated humans.” This is an unsourced claim, but it’s one of those things where I’d just as soon err on the side of safety with Ratels. At the very least, one can’t blame the people of Basra for getting a little jumpy around them.