Saturday, February 24, 2024

Breakdancing stoats

Charles Mitford Cust tells of the breakdancing stoats at Bears Rock


Apparently the 2012 “Braun Battle of the Year” breakdance championship is underway and the coolest movers are strutting their stuff right now down in Montpelier, France.


“B-boying” or “breakdancing” as we recognise it today is a relatively new dance style which can trace its roots to James Brown’s Get on the Good Foot dance of 1969. There is, however, another species that has been practising the art for considerably longer and that is the stoat.


A dancing stoat "Stan style" ©Tristan Bantock
A dancing stoat “Stan style” ©Tristan Bantock


The stoat is one of nature’s acrobats, with a level of agility, dexterity and stamina which places it in a class of it’s own in the animal kingdom. It is also incredibly strong. A stoat is quite capable of killing and dragging home a creature 10 times its size and weight.


Although stoats, with their immaculately groomed ermine coats and pretty little black tails look almost unbearably cute and charming, they are also one of the most ruthless killers ever created. You see the stoat doesn’t dance just to amuse itself; it literally dances for its supper. For this reason, the stoat is and has to be the best “B-boyer” in the world.


Stoats dance around potential victims in order to hypnotise them. They put on such dazzling displays of acrobatics, including the famous “headspin” that defines “breaking” that your average rabbit becomes so mesmerised that it allows the stoat to dance closer and closer. The next thing the bunny knows is that the “B-boy” stoat has sunk his teeth deep into its throat and then is on a one-way ticket to the great Watership Down in the sky. Nice.


Stoats have danced their way through 7 million years of survival, and like so many highly successful predators, such as sharks and crocodiles, having once established their evolutionary niche and perfected their modus operandi, they have remained pretty much unchanged in all that time. We can therefore safely assume that stoats even breakdanced their way through the last ice age, during which time, according to the experts, they faired very well as a species with their compact dimensions and standard issue ermine to insulate them from the sub-zero temperatures. Seems like the Ice Age animation series should have featured a stoat rather than a sloth.


About six months ago, a stoat, whom I have christened Stan, moved to Bears Rock. He is obviously a discerning type of chap because having looked all around the grounds for a suitable home, he decided to move into the basement of my wooden African style rondavel which sits on an elevated veranda overlooking my lake.


Stan and Stella’s crib

From this strategic vantage point, he, and Stella, as I have named his wife, have a lovely view of the lower garden some fifty feet below them in the mornings and can decide which of my rabbits they are going to eat for lunch.


“Just popping out for a spot of busking Stella,” says Stan as he heads out. “Alright Stan,” Stella responds: “But be as quick as you can love: I need you to gnaw a bigger back exit for us in case that Charles bloke buys a Jack Russell.”


I am sure that another reason why Stan found this des res so appealing is because the surrounding timber balustrade makes such a wonderful place to train their young, the kits, in acrobatics and the art of artistic killing.


I have often watched enthralled by the dazzling high-speed display he and Stella put on as they free run all over the structure, often appearing to defy the laws of gravity and physics. They make a welcome interlude to my day trading routine, although they have probably cost me a fortune in bad trades. I now eagerly look forward to watching the kits getting their schooling from mum and dad in the spring.


One thing is certain, it is lucky for the competitors in Montpelier that there isn’t an entry category for stoats: Stan and Stella would wipe the floor with the lot of them.


Watch a BBC One video of breakdancing stoats at:


The 2012 Braun Battle of the Year:

The Steeple Times
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  1. Thank you Mr Mitford Cust. I enjoyed your article though I know next to zero about breakdancing. The stoats pictured look delightful but remember this, they are killing machines. I don’t [thankfully] have any problems here with rabbits but foxes are a terrible blight as they kill my chickens. I am thinking of trying to persuade Mr Bone to get a gun but Mr Cameron’s PR men will tell him that this might annoy the PC brigade currently trying to save the badgers. We don’t want Brian May on Mr Bone’s case now, do we? Any suggestions would be welcomed. Yours kindly, Mrs Bone

  2. Mrs Bone, whilst I am very keen on shooting, there are few opportunities to catch old Charlie actually committing the crime so it is probably not an effective solution unless the chicken run is in view and range of your bedroom window.I would suggest two alternatives, if it is practical to do so, erect an electric fence about a foot high around the chicken run and either switch it on at night or install a simple timer to activate it after the chickens have put themselves to bed, which the majority of them do. They are not that expensive from places like SCATS farmer’s stores. Another idea is to buy a product called ‘Silent Roar’ which is basically dried lion poo collected from zoos etc from I found this a very effective way of keeping badgers out of my garden at night when they were digging up my lawn. Foxes hate lion poo as much as mice hate peppermint oil, being a top predator the lion’s essence is feared by everything. The pack comes with gloves and it is not difficult to deploy. In the meantime, providing the chicken run is not in public view, try an old gamekeepers trick, ask Mr Bone to ‘mark his territory’ at alternating corners of the run when he returns from the House at night as humans are also predators and the scent of male pee is also feared by foxes, not quite as much as lions though!

    • Dear Mr Mitford Cust
      Your information is invaluable and I am indeed going to pass this to Mr Bone. I think we’ve provided him with a task for when he returns from the House for the weekend. I think it best that we opt for your electric fence idea as, as promising as your other solution sounds, it wouldn’t do well for a constituent to find Mr Bone in the bushes. I do not think Mr Cameron’s PC brigade would have much truck with that and nor would Mr Bone’s electorate. With your kind help, though, Mr Tod will hopefully be kept away. I shall keep you updated on the score.
      Yours appreciatively
      Mrs Bone

  3. more of this Charles, its a great shame I couldn’t accept your offer to come to the country for a visit, your article has made me long for a city escape, sipping claret and shooting cuddle creatures for dinner. But alas, I am travelling in Europe and going to Saudi Arabia in November. Hope to meet you soon at your lovely estate.
    -the spy


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