Badger

Badgers are mustelids belonging to the same family as ferrets, martens, minks, otters, polecats, skunks, weasels, and wolverines. They are stout and short-legged, with most species being omnivorous in nature. These mustelids tend to spend most of their time underground, only coming out at night to hunt.

Scientific Classification

Animalia
Chordata
Mammalia
Carnivora

Scientific Classification

Animalia
Chordata
Mammalia
Carnivora

The name badger was initially used to refer to the European badger in particular, because of the white mark on their forehead resembling a badge.

Types of Badger

List of the Common Types of Badger Species

There are several species of badgers found worldwide. These include:

  • Honey Badger
  • American Badger
  • Japanese Badger
  • European Badger
  • Asian Badger
  • Caucasian Badger
  • Indonesian Stink Badger
  • Burmese Ferret-Badger
  • Javan Ferret-Badger
  • Chinese Ferret-Badger
  • Formosan Ferret-Badger
  • Bornean Ferret-Badger
  • Vietnam Ferret-Badger
  • Northern Hog Badger
  • Greater Hog Badger
  • Sumatran Hog Badger
  • Palawan Stink Badger

Badger
Badger Animal

Physical Description and Appearance

Size: Length: 35 in (90 cm)

The American badger is 23.5-29.5 in (60-70 cm), while the European badgers measures 24–35 in (60–90 cm).

Weight: 20–24 lb (9–11 kg)

Body and Coloration: Badgers are short and broad in appearance, with four stubby legs. They have elongated, flattened heads similar to that of a weasel and a pair of tiny ears. The length of the tail varies, depending on the species. For example, the tail of the American badger is 4 – 6.5 in (10-16 cm), while that of the honey badger is 4.7–11.8 in (12–30 cm).

Their bodies are grey with a light stripe from head to tail. The faces is black with white markings, and the legs are darkly colored. Their ventral region is lighter than the dorsal side.

Where are they found

Badgers can be found in the Arabian Desert, Great Britain, China, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, North America, Pakistan, south Levant, sub-Saharan Africa, Turkmenistan, and most of Europe as far north as southern Scandinavia.

Habitat

Badgers live in open areas like alpine meadows, grasslands, fields, semi-desert regions, sagebrush, and woodlands.

Badger Habitat
Images of a Badger

How long do they live

The average badger lives for 9-10 years, though many die at a much younger age. The American badger holds the record of living the longest in the wild, for about 14 years.

 In captivity, they may live longer. For instance, the honey badger lives up to 24 years in captivity.

What do they eat

The diet of the various badger species includes amphibians, birds, earthworms, grubs, hedgehogs, honey, insects, porcupines, rabbits, reptiles, rodents, and even some venomous snakes like the puff adder. Some European variants break into chicken coops for an easy meal. They are even known to get intoxicated by eating rotting fruit.

Behavior

  • Badgers shelter underground in extensive burrows called setts. Some are solitary, while other species form clans of 2 to 15 called cetes.
  • For short periods, they can trot at speeds of 16–19 mph.
  • They are nocturnal, staying underground in their setts during the day.
  • They are generally not aggressive and will run away from any threats. However, if their cete or young are threatened, they may attack viciously.
  • In North America, badgers have an interesting relationship with the coyote. Sometimes they hunt together, or ignore each other completely, and some coyotes have been observed attacking badgers for food.
Badger Claws
Badgers

Predators

Badgers have very few natural predators. The few animals that can effectively kill a badger include big cats like bobcats, lions, and leopards, coyotes, eagles, and hyenas.

Adaptations

  • Their strong limbs and claws allow them to dig burrows underground and kill prey easily.
  • The coloration of the badgers will enable them to camouflage themselves easily, as they look like trees and branches in the dark.
  • Badgers have a strong sense of smell as well as acute hearing to make up for their poor eyesight.
  • The structure of their skull allows for lesser movement but stronger bites.

How do they reproduce

They are promiscuous, with both the sexes mating several partners, and not forming any bonds. Generally, badgers breed once per year. After mating, female badgers prepare a den where they will give birth, lining it with grass to make it comfortable.

Baby Badger
Badger Teeth

Life Cycle

After a gestation period of 6-8 weeks for most badgers, or as long 6 months in the case of the honey badger, 1-5 baby badgers are born. The young, called cubs, are born blind and helpless. Their mother nurses them for 2-3 months before weaning them on solid foods. Sexual maturity ranges from 9-12 months.

Video

Conservation

As per the IUCN, most species of badgers are considered “Least Concern” or “LC”. However, the Bornean ferret badger is “Endangered” or “EN”, and the Greater hog badger is classified as “Vulnerable” or “VU”. The former is at risk due to shrinking habitats and natural disasters like fires, while the latter is threatened by poaching.

Badger Images
Picture of Badger

Badgers– FAQs

1. Are badgers dangerous?

They will attack humans only if threatened or cornered. But usually, they will hiss and growl to deter any approaching threat and run away rather than pursuing them.

2. Do badgers hibernate?

The badgers don’t hibernate but go into a state of torpor or complete inactivity during winters. This happens in cycles, with each lasting for about 29 hours.

3. Are badgers smart?

The honey badger is extremely intelligent and can even use tools.

4. Can badgers climb trees?

Despite living underground most of the time, some lighter badger species like the honey badger can climb trees with the help of their nails.

5. What do badgers represent?

Badgers are often a symbol of tenacity and persistence.

6. What are a group of badgers called?

A group of badgers is called a colony.

7. Are badgers nice?

They are not aggressive towards people but generally avoid confrontation.

Badger Picture
Badger Photo

Interesting Facts

  • Badgers have had a long history with humans. They have been hunted for sport, culled by farmers to protect livestock, and even kept as pets in parts of Britain. In parts of Europe, badgers through their activities were often put to use to predict how long the winter season would last.
  • In popular culture, the badger has often been featured in literature such as The Chronicles of Narnia, The Wind in the Willows, and the Incident at Hawk’s Hill.
  • The mascot of the state of Wisconsin in the United States is the badger, though it is actually a reference to the state’s history of miners and not the creature. It is also the mascot of several colleges, such as Brock University in Canada, the University of Sussex, England, and St Aidan’s College.