Sunday, August 26, 2007

I Like Cats Best

We interrupt this extended period of neglectful torpor to alert you to a piece of shoddy reporting from yesterday's Guardian:

"People may be desperately seeking the sun after the wettest recorded summer, but at least one species would have had it no other way. Britain's favourite mammal, the badger, may be found this weekend at home in his sett, with his larder full, his babes fattening beside him and very little need to go out and hunt."
(My emphasis)

A search for 'Britain's favourite mammal' on Google elicits no evidence of a collective national preference for the badger. But it does reveal that the Forestry Commission is confident that Britain's favourite mammal is the red squirrel:

"Pupils of Inverness's Smithton Primary School will on Friday kick off the great Highland Red Squirrel Hunt - and National Red Squirrel Week - and do their bit to help save Britain's favourite mammal from further decline and possible extinction."

...while a third faction claims the title for our spiky friend the hedgehog, and Swansea City Council makes a daring counter-claim for the otter.

None of these people cite a single shred of evidence for their claim, although the Guardian certainly has form (or, if you will, sett), having proclaimed the badger as top mammal as long ago as 1999.

Personally I would have put good money on Britain's favourite mammal being 'dog', 'cat' or, Heaven forbid, 'human beings'. But the category of 'mammal' has a long history of being appropriated by interested parties for their own political ends, as any feminist critic of Charles* Linnaeus could tell you, and on the strength of the evidence presented here, I can only assume that this continues to be the case.

*Carl. Ahem.


Tim Footman said...

I always thought Britain's favourite mammal was that nice Judi Dench.

LUMPUS said...

my favrit mammule is a lesser anteature with a bow tie

miss-cellany said...

Query - would the US favourite mammal be the 'burger' or the 'hot dog'?

Billy said...

Pine Martens for me or possibly an otter. (Thank you Guardian wall chart!)

Valerie said...

miss-cellany, as the resident Token Yank I must demur.

Yanks' favorite British mammal is definitely the hedgehog. We haven't got any, you see, and they seem rather darling.

Yanks' favorite mammal in general is... hell, I don't care what the rest of them think. I pick cats. Though I have to admit the slow loris at the zoo last night was mega-cool, so I might have to change my vote. Nighttime Zoo rocks.

Paul Pennyfeather said...

"Feather-footed through the splashy fen passes the questing vole"...
I don't think that William Boot would ever make such a claim for the crested grebe, he did however fail to find a single authenticated case of a great crested grebe attacking young rabbits.

LC said...

My favourite mammal is my Nan.

patroclus said...

'Slow loris' sounds brilliant, and also a boon for anyone wanting to write a limerick about someone called Doris.

PP - I instantly thought of William Boot upon reading that article.

The bat is quite a good mammal. I like the way the French call it chauve-souris (bald mouse), thus completely overlooking the obvious physical attribute that sets it apart from its mousy relatives.

cello said...

Badgers eat my carrots and have the smelliest poos ever.
Britons' fave mammal is surely the horse. I like foxes very much, mainly because of Roald Dahl.