Tag Archives: hamster

Glastonbury Tor Ultrabeast might be Queen Hamster

Glastonbury Tor visitors are advised to keep peanuts double wrappedFor many years scientists have been mystified by the all-male population of Somerset Stranglers – the breed of hamsters native to Glastonbury Tor. The big question has always been how do they reproduce?

Religious teaching has been that they engage in virgin birth, explaining why so many hamsters are depicted in the stained glass windows of churches in Glastonbury.

Historically the scientific community has not challenged this idea out of respect for the hamster’s right to privacy. Local byelaws make it illegal to film these adorable animals during what might or might not be their mating season.

But the mystery of how Somerset Stranglers reproduce may have finally been answered thanks to recent coppicing of the wooded area on the dangerous north face of the Tor.

Police have received a higher than normal number of reports of a giant creature. Nervous villagers have responded in the traditional way by screaming “Ultrabeast!” as they run home, lock their front door and hide behind the sofa. But a new generation of visitors to Glastonbury have been able to give police a description.

Chief Inspector Wilkinson of the Glastonbury constabulary explains: “Over the last week we have received dozens of calls from ramblers warning of an unexplained creature that roams Glastonbury Tor. Estimates put it at somewhere around twelve feet tall, and bright white in colour. But the clue that makes us think it might be a Somerset Strangler is that so many independent witnesses have described it as having adorably weak forearms. There is only one creature I know of matching that description.”

Wilkinson continues: “The guys in forensics think it may be a rare queen hamster that used to live in the tunnels beneath Glastonbury Tor, and was forced from its natural habitat when the prisoners at St Michael’s Prison dug their escape tunnel and delved too deep. It may now have gone to dwell in the woods on the north face of the Tor, and the coppicing has left it without a home.”

Visitors to Glastonbury Tor should be reassured that there have been no reports of the Ultrabeast attacking humans so it is probably perfectly safe to visit the area. However, if you take a picnic onto the tor you should keep any bags of peanuts double wrapped as they cause aggressive behaviour in male Somerset Stranglers and this could be a hideous problem when scaled up to the proportions of a queen hamster.

What is under Glastonbury Tor?

What is under Glastonbury Tor?This seemingly simple question has mystified people for over a hundred years – what is beneath Glastonbury Tor?

The simple answer is that it depends on just how far down you want to go.

The surface of Glastonbury Tor is covered mainly by grass, with the exception of the paved walkway that was installed by King Arthur, and the half acre test area of garlic and vines that has been planted by Société d’Horticulture de Poitiers as part of their tor takeover plans.

But below this seemingly prosaic surface is where it gets interesting!

Between 0 and 15cm below the surface – geologists call this the Strangularis Plateau

On Glastonbury Tor the upper topsoil layer is riddled with wild hamster burrows since they went rampant in the 1970’s. This breed known locally as Somerset Stranglers have such contradictory qualities that the National Trust has consistently been unable to take the decisive action of a cull. This isn’t helped by the large number of local protest groups, some in favour of reducing the hamster population, and some – such as the Strangler Preservation Society – who aggressively defend hamster rights.

Although the burrows are too small for a human foot to get trapped in, they are a risk to dog paws, which is one of the reasons for the hundreds of Keep Off The Grass signs on Glastonbury Tor.

Between 15cm and 30cm below the surface – geologists call this the Mud Layer

Although they have very sharp claws for fighting, the hamsters that are native to Glastonbury Tor have adorably weak forearms and can not dig very deep. This means the lower area of topsoil is undisturbed, and is mainly composed of spoilings from the tunnel excavations at the now disused St. Michael’s Prison.

Between 30cm and 100cm below the surface – geologists call this the Paving Layer

The recent geophysics scan commissioned by Glastonbury Archaeology Society revealed that King Arthur and his merry men actually paved the whole of Glastonbury Tor in ancient times but local residents gradually took and used these slabs to make patios in their back gardens.

Between 100cm and 200cm below the surface – geologists call this the 42 Layer

The biggest 42 in the world is believed to be below the surface of Glastonbury Tor, revealed by two consecutive geophysics scans. It is formed from protrusions of iron from the core of Glastonbury Tor.

Between 200cm and the centre of the earth

The majority of the majestic mount that people see when they visit Glastonbury is made of solid iron – a huge geological anomaly that weighs as much as the moon, but is much more compact and convenient. This explains why metal detectors do not work properly within a two mile radius of Glastonbury Tor.

Tunnels beneath Glastonbury Tor

Legend has it that Glastonbury Tor is riddled with a hidden labyrinth of tunnels – a maze haunted by the ghosts of untold numbers of monks and druids who got lost attempting to find their way from the tor to Glastonbury Abbey, or the Glastonbury Druidic Headquarters. No evidence has ever been found of these tunnels. The only tunnel known to exist was that created by prisoners at St. Michael’s Prison that was cut short just before reaching Castle Cary train station.

Glastonbury supersun threatens to incinerate visitors

Glastonbury supersunSunwatchers on Glastonbury Tor in Somerset were rewarded with the rare supersun phenomena today, only weeks after the recent supermoon. Scientists are wondering if there is a connection.

Glastonbury supersuns occur when the earth passes unusually close to the sun on its elliptical axis. Because the tor is the highest geographical feature in South West England it is the best chance many people have of getting a really good look at the sun.

Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor offered visitors some sound words of advice; “The sun came very close today – if felt like you could reach out and touch it. But on this special day visitors need to be very wary. Some people actually started to sunbathe, but luckily we stopped them in time. It’s not just the intense rays from the sun that can cause your skin to wrinkle up and start fizzling, but the heat makes the hamster burrows uncomfortably hot, so you find a lot of the Somerset Stranglers come to the surface, and you know how territorial they are – they become very frisky.”

Henge continued; “Anyone venturing onto the tor on a supersun day should make sure they have plenty of aluminium foil and calamine lotion. If you forget to bring some, or run out, it is available in the gift shop. The next supersun will be in 5 years.”

Don’t be tempted by the hamsters at Glastonbury Tor say vets

A Somerset Strangler on Glastonbury TorLocal vets have advised visitors to stop stuffing their pockets with the hamsters that are swarming over Glastonbury Tor this year.

The huge population of hamsters, known by local breeders as Somerset Stranglers because of the tendency of females to kill their babies when food runs out, has swelled since they were granted protected species status in 1974.

A Somerset Strangler about to biteHamster experts say that Somerset Stranglers were introduced to the area by Dutch tulip dealers in the seventeenth century when they found them to be a breed that could be trusted to guard valuable tulip bulbs.  Because they don’t have any natural predators on Glastonbury Tor they have bred like wildfire and it was only the Somerset potato famine of 1924 that caused their numbers to dwindle.

A Somerset Strangler biting the hand of a childTitania Bonham-Smythe, the Chief Gatekeeper at Glastonbury Tor explains; “When visitors walk up Glastonbury Tor and see the hamsters frolicking on the grass it is very tempting to put a couple in their pockets.  But people need to remember that these are not the same friendly hamsters you find in a pet shop.  They live in the wild and are not tame.  They are ruthless scavengers that will quickly become savage with any human that denies them food or cotton wool for their nest.”

A leaflet is available at the National Trust gift shop explaining the dangers of Somerset Stranglers.

Some other pets now allowed to use dog trolleys to climb Glastonbury Tor

A public outcry has followed the recent announcement that Glastonbury Pilgrims Union has donated thirty dog trolleys to enable people to enjoy the tor with their dogs. These trolleys were necessary because the tor has grown by 30 metres in the last decade which meant that many dogs were no longer able to get to the top under their own steam.

This week three hundred owners of other pets signed a petition that was handed in to the Lord Mayor of Glastonbury the Rt Hon Lawrence McKnight, that claimed equal rights to trolleys for all pets.

In a partial step-down the Pilgrims Union have agreed that if trolleys are not being used by dogs then other pets may use them. However it is not good news for all pets. Very small animals may be expected to double up and share with others in order to avoid wasting space. So for example, if two people arrive with chinchillas, and there is a spaniel sized trolley, they would be expected to share. There are no plans to force animals from entirely different species to share trolleys, but many people think this will be hard to enforce. The rule of thumb is that if a pet is likely to eat or attack another animal that it shares a trolley with, then it should wear a muzzle.

Dog Trolley SignFortunately muzzles for a wide range of species are available in the National Trust gift shop if pet owners arrive without one.

Patricia Barnyard of the Glastonbury Dogwalker’s Trust remains upbeat; “Obviously dogs take priority. They are the best sort of pet, and this new ruling on trolleys accepts that fact. It means that dogs are never expected to share a trolley. They are always welcome to enjoy their visit to the tor, although there have been occasions when a queue of beagles has developed. On the other hand, if you want to bring a hamster or a cat for a walk on the tor it is possible that they will be able to use the trolleys too, and visitors will find a good selection of cat muzzles in the shop, on the shelf below the Hobgoblin Marmalade.”