The European Badger
is a species of badger found in almost everywhere in Europe and parts of Asia.
Also known as the Eurasian badger or
simply Badger, these mammals are a
common animal in many zoological parks in the world
and is even known to make good pets.
weights tend to vary by season. During autumn, they tend to weigh between 11
and 12 kg, while during mating season (spring) they weigh less at around 8 to 9.
Fur: The entire
body is covered with a black and white coat,
while the skull (head) is covered with
stripes of the same color.
Body: They have a strong and muscular body with
short legs and long claws.
Tail: They have a
bushy tail that measures around 150 mm.
Sexual Dimorphism: There
are no visible differences between the
sexes except that the males are slightly larger than the females.
Their longevity in the wild is around 12 years, while in
captivity, it is approximately 16.
The European Badger is native to almost all of the parts of the European continent and some parts
of West Asia.
The ideal habitat of
the European Badger includes deciduous and coniferous forests, as also mixed
woodlands adjacent to open fields. They have also been seen dwelling in hedges,
scrub, agricultural land, grassland, riverine habitats, steppes, and
Classification of Species
European Badgers have been classified
as eight recognized subspecies as follows:
Common badger – Meles meles meles – is the nominate subspecies and is found in almost
entire Europe except Rhodes, Crete, and
Cretan badger – Meles meles arcalus – found in the Greek island of Crete;
Trans-Caucasian badger – Meles meles canascens – found in parts of Asia including Transcaucasia,
Kopet Dag, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and probably in Asia Minor;
Kizlyar badger – Meles meles heptneri – found in the Steppe region;
Iberian badger – Meles meles marianensis – found in the Iberian Peninsula;
Norwegian badger – Meles meles milleri – found in the south-western regions of Norway;
Rhodes badger – Meles meles rhodius – found in the Greek island of Rhodes;
Fergana badger – Meles meles severzovi – found in some parts of Asia’s Panj River, Amu
Darya, Pamiro-Alay system, the Fergana Valley and its adjoining areas.
American Badger vs. European Badger
The main difference between the American and the European
badgers lies in their very appearance. While the former is primarily hefty,
with the body covered with brown to beige body hair, the latter has a relatively
muscular appearance with their characteristic black and white coat coloration.
These badgers are primarily nocturnal mammals, and usually
sleep all day. Though sometimes they can be seen passing secretly through the
bushes amidst sunlight. They are known to have a bad temperament, and if they
feel threatened, they tend to attack enemies larger by size, including humans.
European badgers forage by digging burrows and finding food
underground. They make homes digging caves and tunnels, while they use grass
and leaves to arrange for their bedding. Very interestingly, they are clean animals and would reserve a special chamber that
they use as a toilet.
A single home can be several centuries old and can be
used by several generations. One single home can be anything between 22
and 109 yards (20 to 100 meters) or even more in length.
They usually do not hibernate, but at times sleep for a few
days at a stretch, or even weeks, inside their burrows during the coldest months
of the year.
These badgers are the most social among all badger species
and form groups of around six adult individuals, as also their young ones, if
any. However, bigger associations of up to 23 individuals have also been recorded. Their groups are territorial and do not allow members of the
other groups to enter inside their area.
Badgers are omnivorous, while their main food source is
earthworms, which they can eat in many hundreds in one night. They would also consume
other invertebrates, as also, small vertebrates, and even hedgehogs. Among
plant matters, they would eat bulbs, nuts,
fruit, and cereals.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
The mating season of the badger falls in the spring. However, they have been seen mating in the
other times of the year. The gestation period can vary between 9 and 12 months.
Each litter contains 1 to 5 (average 3) offspring.
The baby badgers (called cubs) remain in their birthing
chamber for about eight weeks. They are playful in
nature and remain active almost at all time. They attain the age of
sexual maturity at around two years of
These animals have strong
limbs with sharp claws that help them in digging burrows, as also find and
capture prey underground. The sharp nails also help them in digging
tunnels and caves.
Their striking black and
white stripes help them in camouflage by recreating the look of trees and
branches in the dark.
The large bulbous canine
teeth and the sharp incisors of the badgers help them chewing any small
Adult badgers do not have any natural predators. However,
humans often hunt them down for their fur.
The population of the badger is static, and they have been marked by the IUCN 3.1 as
‘LC’ (Least Concern).
In Germany, the dog breed dachshund
was bred exclusively to hunt badgers. In
fact, the name of the dog in German translates to “badger
Their home is called a ‘sett’.
Bovine tuberculosis is a
common disease that often affects the badgers.