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Badger image
Badger

Badger

(Mammal)

Badger Baby
Badger Baby

Badger Habits

Badgers live in family groups during spring and summer, when young are being reared. The size of a group depends on food supplies. Sometimes several groups live in the same location. Each group lives in an underground den. Group members scent-mark each other for recognition. Badgers often travel long distances over frequently used paths in search of food. Males, called boars, also roam during the breeding season, searching for mates. Badgers do not hibernate, but in cold weather they may sleep in the den for two or three nights in a row.
The badger's only natural enemy is humans. Probably the greatest danger comes from motorists. Hunters trap badgers for their fine hair, which is made into shaving and artists' brushes. The so-called sport of badger baiting, which results in slow and painful death, is now illegal but still continues in some places. Fox hunters sometimes block the entrances to badger dens to keep foxes from escaping into them. Although the badgers dig out their entrances again, naturalists say that the reduced air flow to the dens interferes with the badgers' feeding and causes undue stress to the animals.
Badgers are easiest to see in summer. The best location for viewing them is from the low branches of a tree above, and downwind from, a den's entrances. Arrive an hour before sunset, and stay still. With luck, you will see a snout appear from the entrance to sniff the air for danger, then the badger emerges, followed by others in the group.
The underground den or sett, contains a network of tunnels and chambers and often has many entrances. The badger lines the chambers with bedding of grass or leaves, which it replaces frequently with fresh materials. Badger cubs are born underground and spend the first 8 weeks in a special nursery area in the den.
The badger inhabits open prairies and plains of the western United States and Canada. It is found widely throughout Europe and Asia.
It is illegal to mistreat badgers. It is necessary to get a license to kill badgers.

Badger Communication

Acoustic communication is one of the primary methods by which signals are transmitted between badgers, complemented by smell which provides an essential and more durable message. Vocalizations are a flexible modality of communication, enabling the individual to convey rapid changes of mood to others in the dark of the night. In addition, vocal signals facilitate localization, and possibly even individual recognition.
The badger has a surprisingly diverse vocal repertoire which may relate to both their nocturnal habits, and the relative complexity of their social structure. When communicating with other badgers discrete sound types may be differentiated contextually. For example, the growl may be used either in a warning/defense context or it may be produced in conjunction with a show of dominance. The badger's vocal repertoire consists of at least sixteen discrete calls, varying from long, low pitched growls to short, high-pitched squeaks and bird-like coos. Churrs, purrs, and keckers seem to be restricted to adults only, while chirps, clucks, coos, squeaks and wails are confined to the badger cub's repertoire.
During the mating season the most frequently heard calls are the male churrs and the female yelps. At other times badgers utilize a variety of vocal expressions to convey a complex series of messages to those around them.

Badger Breeding

Badgers mate year-round but are most active from February to May. Implantation of the egg in the womb is usually delayed until December, and the young are born the following February. Usually one to four cubs are born underground in a special nursery area. They are suckled by their mother in this nursery area for 8 weeks. Then they begin searching for food with her outside of the den, although they may not be completely weaned until they are 32 weeks old.

Badger Food & Feeding

The badger is a true omnivore: it eats both plant and animal life. Among its usual foods are earthworms, insects, slugs, and frogs, a wide variety of roots, plants, and fruits, and small mammals such as rabbits, moles, and rats--especially their young. Badgers usually leave their dens at dusk to search for food. Because their eyesight is poor, they rely on their sharp senses of smell and hearing to detect food sources. groups of badgers often forage together, although the dominant boar takes the best for himself.

Badger Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: About 12 inches to shoulder. Length: 2-3 ft., nose to tail
              Weight: Males, 20-37 lb.; females. 14-28 lb
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: Males, 2 years old. Females, from 1 year
             Mating: Usually February-May
             Gestation: Usually the spring following mating
             Number of young: 1-4 cubs
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Nocturnal and solitary
            Diet: Earthworms, roots, grasses, fruits, insects, mice, rats, shrews, gophers, and young rabbits
            Lifespan: 15 years

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • A quarter of all badgers die before they are two months old. Only a third survive their first three years.
  • A badger holds fresh bedding between chin and forepaws and enters the den backwards.
  • Rabbits, mice, and foxes may share badgers' dens.
  • The badger's strong jaw is designed in such a way that it cannot be dislocated without the skull being fractured.
  • Scars above the tail indicate a recent skirmish with another badger to establish dominance.

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