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Rare Maltese weasel spotted

The Ballottra

Photo: Steve Zammit Lupi | Facebook

Councillor of Żebbuġ and nature enthusiast Steve Zammit Lupi managed to capture this brilliant shot of the Maltese weasel, better known as a ballottra, last weekend.

The ballottra is endemic to the Maltese islands. In fact, the weasel is believed to be the only natural inhabitant of Malta. One thing’s for sure and that is that it is an extremely rare sight nowadays. The ballottra was also once a symbol of pride and national identity in Malta and had secured their place on the old one cent coin.

Simar nature reserve

Photo: BirdLife Malta

“When I was a kid, I would encounter the ballottra everyday on the 1c Maltese Lira coin. Today, in our country’s natural habitat, the ballottra is rare and shy. Today I was lucky,” said Steve, sharing a photo of the curious little weasel.

The Maltese weasel can be recognised by its light brown fur, and white fur on its belly. The male is, on average, larger than the female and measures between 13 and 30cm in length. The weasel is the smallest carnivore in the world and is now considered to be a rare species, due to the loss of its habitat on the island. That being said, efforts are being made to safeguard the ballottra, as an educational campaign was launched by the National Museum of Natural History. The museum has made it its mission to collect any and all wild mammal sighting data on the Maltese islands.