Dr KARL SHUKER reveals a little-known cryptid from northern Britain – the lavellan.
According to traditional lore in northern Scotland, certain deep pools and rivers in Caithness were once home to a small yet potentially dangerous mystery beast known as the lavellan. Although likened in superficial form to a water shrew, it was said to be bigger than a rat and extremely venomous (interestingly, shrews are known to have a weakly venomous bite).
Famous British naturalist Thomas Pennant investigated reports of it while visiting Ausdale, and learnt that water in which the preserved skin of a lavellan had been soaked was popularly used as a cure for livestock ailments.
Could a real but scientifically-undescribed shrew-related mammal have been the basis for such claims? Even if so, however, the question is nowadays wholly academic, because the lavellan has not been reported for many years. Consequently, even if it were indeed real, it is now undoubtedly extinct.