Badgers

12 Interesting Facts About Badgers

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Introduction

Badgers are stocky mammals that are part of the weasel family. They have distinctive black and white striped faces and incredibly strong front limbs and claws that help them dig burrows with ease.

While badgers may look cute, they are fierce nocturnal creatures that spend much of their time underground. They have a reputation for being aggressive and territorial, especially when defending their dens.

Badgers can be found across North America, Europe, and Asia living in a wide range of habitats from forests and grasslands to deserts and mountains.

Read on to discover 12 fascinating facts about these fierce digging machines!

1. There Are 11 Badger Species Worldwide

11 known badger species can be found across Europe, Asia, and North America:

  • Eurasian badger
  • American badger
  • Sand badger
  • Chinese ferret-badger
  • Burmese ferret-badger
  • European ferret-badger
  • Japanese badger
  • Asian badger
  • Hog badger
  • Javan ferret-badger
  • Bornean ferret-badger

The most common species are the Eurasian badger which inhabits forests and grasslands across Europe and Asia, and the American badger which lives in open grasslands and deserts of North America.

2. Badgers Are Omnivores

Badgers have an omnivorous diet consisting of:

  • Small mammals like rabbits, groundhogs, rats, and mice
  • Insects
  • Roots
  • Fruits
  • Seeds
  • Fungi
  • Eggs
  • Reptiles
  • Amphibians
  • Worms
  • Carrion

Their diverse palate allows them to adapt to different habitats where food sources may be scarce.

3. They Are Solitary Creatures

Badgers are solitary animals and are aggressive towards other badgers entering their territory. The only exceptions are female badgers which share their burrows with their young, and male/female pairs during breeding season.

4. Cubs Are Born Deaf and Blind

Badger cubs are born deaf, blind, and nearly hairless in underground chambers away from the main den. Litters usually consist of 1-5 cubs which remain dependent on their mother for food and warmth for around 14-16 weeks.

5. Their Burrows Are Called Sets

A badger’s underground burrow is called a sett. Setts feature multiple tunnels and chambers used for sleeping, breeding, food storage, and even toilets!

Some setts have existed for hundreds of years and can stretch over 50m long and 3m deep. A single sett can have over 30 entrance holes.

Badgers keep their setts scrupulously clean by clearing out old bedding material.

Badgers

6. They Are Digging Machines

A badger’s powerful front limbs and long claws make them expert diggers able to tunnel through even the hardest ground with ease.

When digging, they use a backwards-moving motion to efficiently clear soil beneath their bellies. Their back limbs then flip the loose soil out of the tunnel behind them. Clever!

MeasurementDigging Capability
Claw length4-6cm
Front limb strengthStrong enough to lift a 14kg weight
Soil displaced per minute when digging13.6kg

7. Badgers Are Fastidious Groomers

Badgers are clean animals and groom themselves regularly using their long tongues. During grooming, they spread oil from their anal glands throughout their fur to waterproof it.

Their grooming routine includes:

  • Licking their fur to remove debris
  • Using specialized grooming claws for scratching
  • Flattening down ruffled fur

8. They Have Two Distinct Sleeping Cycles

Badgers have polyphasic sleep cycles consisting of two distinct sleeping periods:

  • Day sleep – Badgers spend the day asleep underground in their setts emerging at dusk.
  • Night sleep – During their nighttime foraging badgers will take short naps in sheltered spots returning to their setts before sunrise.

This split sleep pattern allows them to maximize their foraging time while still getting adequate rest.

9. Badgers Can Run Up to 30 Km/h

While badgers look slow and cumbersome, they can actually reach impressive running speeds clocking over 30km/h over short distances. Their squat shape gives them a low center of gravity allowing them to quickly accelerate and sharply change direction.

This speed allows them to pursue prey as well as escape threats from larger predators.

10. Their Sense of Smell is 100 Times Better Than Humans

A badger relies on its excellent sense of smell to locate prey and navigate at night. They have over 200 million scent cells compared to around 5 million in humans.

This allows them to smell food sources up to 12cm underground!

11. Badgers Have Few Natural Predators

As badgers have thick skin, sharp claws, powerful jaws, and can run very fast, they have few natural predators to threaten them. Only very large predators may attack badgers and cubs such as:

  • Wolves
  • Brown bears
  • Wolverines
  • Lynxes
  • Eagles

However, humans pose the biggest threat to badger populations through hunting, road accidents, and habitat loss.

12. They Are Illegally Bait Trapped

Unfortunately, illegal blood sport bait trapping still threatens badger populations in some countries. Bait trapping involves placing food inside cages to lure badgers which are then killed by dogs once trapped.

Not only is this practice unethical, but scientific studies have shown that culling badgers has little impact on controlling the spread of bovine tuberculosis to cattle. The most effective prevention is increased testing and vaccination of cattle.

Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed reading about these 12 fascinating badger facts!

Badgers play an important ecological role by digging tunnels that provide shelter and access to food for other animals. They also help control populations of small prey species.

It’s vital that we protect these intriguing nocturnal creatures by stopping illegal hunting practices and preserving their natural habitat.

If you want to learn more about badgers, be sure to check out wildlife documentaries, books, and reputable websites. Just be careful not to get too close to one! Their sharp claws and attitude ensure they are not to be messed with!


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