Cretan Fauna


Cretan badger
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The badger of Crete or arkalos (scient. Meles meles arcalus) is an endemic subspecies of the common badger (Meles meles). It is a carnivorous mammal resembling a small bear with short legs, relatively long body (70-95 centimeters) and short tail (15 centimeters), while it can weight up 20 kilos. It has short, thick and rough coat, silver-white at the back, sides and tail. It has a distinctive white strap beginning from the edge of the muzzle and getting to the back of the head. At the same time, on the two sides there are two other straps of dark brown coloration, which pass over the eyes, reminding of a robber.

It's an omnivore animal; it feeds on hares, rabbits, rats, mice, worms, roots, fruits (poor vineyards!), beetles, seeds (oak-apples), insects (wasps, bees, etc.) and snails. In general it prefers animal food and it doesn’t attack to humans, except if being in danger.

It gives birth in February-March to 3-5 youngsters after a pregnancy of 7-8 months. After 6 weeks youngsters separate from their parents in order to live alone. They come of age in two years. It lives approximately 15 years.

It's a nocturnal animal and spends its life in an underground nest (a sophisticated tunnel with many corridors and escape exits) that it builds in the ground. Common animal in Crete, it is found at an altitude up to 1500 meters. In the past, in the 60s and before that, it was hunted for its skin, but it’s now strictly prohibited. Indeed there is a town in the center of Heraklion Prefecture, where badgers abounded, that is called Arkalohori (i.e. village of the badgers).

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