where the writers are
Death Match

We have in Crete, when she feels like it, Aspro - a feral cat who took up residence with us a few years back. Yesterday, hearing a furious screaming in the olive grove at the rear of the house, I rushed out in time to catch a quite literal fight to the death between Aspro and, as I thought, a polecat. When I first arrived, they were locked 'jaw on jaw', the polecat's bared teeth making the head look like that of a miniature Great White.  Sadly I missed that shot and had no time to get a proper camera but the iPhone snapped the later stages.

The mutual grips broken, neither party was prepared to back away. A vicious flurry of snarling and snapping teeth followed...


 Polecats are small and look rather cuddlesome but they are extremely aggressive predators, perfectly capable of killing a cat. The outcome was in doubt for a couple of minutes but at last...



Seeking more details of the 'polecat' led me via Wiki to contact Malene Thyssen [malene at mtfoto.dk] a nature photographer who kindly pointed out that the creature was in fact Mustela nivalis, the Least Weasel. It's rather smaller than the polecat but a fierce little beast nonetheless. OED's definition includes: 'It is remarkable for its slender body, and for its ferocity and bloodthirstiness.'

In classical and medieval European mythology, it is sometimes said that the only thing which can kill a basilisk is a weasel (viz Mustela nivalis), though it would be killed in the conflict as well.