Van Vihar welcomes baby bear, honey badger | india | Hindustan Times
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Van Vihar welcomes baby bear, honey badger

VISITORS TO Van Vihar will now be able to see two new arrivals - a bear cub and a ratel ? honey badger. The bear cub has been brought from Sidhi, whereas the ratel has come from Rewa. Ratel - Honey Badger, a small and clumsy looking creature, which represents the genus Mellivora in the family of Mustelidae (Carnivora) is a new animal to have arrived at Van Vihar.

india Updated: Jun 10, 2006 01:46 IST

VISITORS TO Van Vihar will now be able to see two new arrivals - a bear cub and a ratel – honey badger. The bear cub has been brought from Sidhi, whereas the ratel has come from Rewa. Ratel - Honey Badger, a small and clumsy looking creature, which represents the genus Mellivora in the family of Mustelidae (Carnivora) is a new animal to have arrived at Van Vihar.

There are two species of this ratel – commonly recognised as the Indian (M. indica) and the African (M. ratel), which ranges over Africa. A black ratel from the Ituri forest has been separated as M. cottoni. The former two are iron-grey on upper parts and black below, a style of colouration rare among mammals.

The Indian ratel’s body is stout and thickly built, with short and strong legs and arms, especially the anterior pair, with long curved claws. It has a short tail and ears are reduced to rudiments.

The skull is conical, stout and heavy and teeth, although sharper and less rounded than those of badgers, are less suited to a carnivorous diet than those of stoats, weasels and martens.

The two species are, however, so closely allied that they might almost be considered geographical races of a single species.

Indian ratel is found throughout whole of India, from the extreme South to the foot of the Himalayas, chiefly in hilly districts, where it has greater facilities for constructing the holes and dens in which it lives; but also in the north of India in alluvial plains, where the banks of large rivers afford equally suitable localities wherein to make its lair.

They usually live in pairs and eat rats, birds, frogs, white ants and various insects. In north India it is accused of digging out bodies and several of the native names mean grave-digger (Qabar-Bijju) – and it is also seen in Bhopal.

It occasionally partakes honey and is often destructive to poultry. In confinement the Indian ratel becomes tame and even playful, displaying a habit of tumbling head over heels.