Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Badger facts

Badgers are mustelids, members of the same family as stoats and weasels. They are a largely nocturnal, normally shy, retiring animal that lives in large social groups. An average adult badger is 69-71cm long and weighs 18kg, making it one of the larger wild animals in Britain today.

  • Despite being nocturnal, badgers have poor eyesight. However, this is compensated for by their acute hearing and excellent sense of smell.
  • Badgers have strong limbs and sharp clawed feet. These, together with their small head, short neck and long, wedge shaped body makes them excellent diggers.
  • The badger is a social burrowing animal which lives in large underground burrows called a sett. It is very fussy over the cleanliness of its burrow, and defecates in latrines.
  • The badger often lives in a group called a cete or clan. Each clan shares a territory containing feeding grounds and one or more setts. The size of the clan and the size of the territory are both related to the availability of food supplies.
  • Badgers are commonly found in the open countryside, but are also to be found on the edges of towns and cities in parks and even cemeteries. They are very distinctive in appearance but, being nocturnal, are not often seen. Sadly, many are seen only when they become road casualties.
  • Although badgers mainly eat earthworms, they will eat other invertebrates, including slugs, snails and leatherjackets (the larvae of daddy long legs). Badgers often also eat small mammals, birds' eggs and fruit.
  • Badgers are less active in winter, but do not hibernate. The warmer spring nights bring the worms to the surface and provide better foraging conditions.
  • Badgers mate at almost any time of the year, but thanks to an unusual reproductive technique known as delayed implantation, they have only one litter a year.
  • Badgers give birth to between one and five cubs between January to March. The birth usually takes place in the underground chambers, where the cubs will remain until they are about eight weeks old.
  • Badger setts are the family homes, used, maintained and enlarged by generations of the same social group. Main breeding setts -some centuries old -are made up of a myriad of mostly interconnecting tunnels and chambers, often at two or three different levels.

What to look for

  • Five claws and a large wedge-shaped central pad are distinguishing features of the paws of the badger, and in soft or muddy soil they show up well. The claws on the back paws are usually shorter and often overlap and obscure the print left by the forepaws.
  • Badger setts vary from single-entrance short-tunnelled occasionally used outliers to vast, ancient, sprawling underground complexes with multiple entrances extending anything from 20 to 100 metres or more. 
  • In the spoil at a sett entrance, or where badgers push their way through or under obstacles such as brambles, thorn-covered  branches or barbed wire, the distinctive hairs of badgers can be found. Unlike the soft, round hair of a fox or a rabbit, badger guard hair feels coarse to the touch, turns unevenly when rolled between the fingers, and has a short dark section close to the whiter tip.

 

Badger Small Images2Badgers are social animals

 

 

Badger Derbyshire tracks Philip PreceyBadger footprints

 

 

Badger Sett in arable field cpt Bruce Shortland
A badger sett