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Badger Ecology

Badgers are members of the Mustelidae family who’s native cousins in the UK are Stoats, Weasels, Polecats, Pine Martins and Otters. They are omnivores, living on a whole range of food, normally found on their night time wanderings but their preference is earth worms.

 

They live in social groups, also known as clans, in a sett and their preferred habitat is deciduous woodland alongside pasture although they will resort to other types of cover mainly found in urban areas as development has pushed out into the countryside. A social group occupies a territory that will vary in size, normally dictated by food supply and that vital resource can generate territorial disputes. Fighting wounds can become infected causing serious illness and death.

 

The size of a badger clan can vary from about four to a dozen animals usually comprising a dominant male (boar) and a dominant female (sow) with the rest being juveniles although the young males tend to be dispersed after their first 12 months within the group.

 

Mating can take place throughout the year but the females are able to operate a system of ‘delayed implantation’ so that pregnancy begins in November, at a time when badgers, although not hibernating, tend to be less active and spend more time underground.

 

The pregnant sow usually gives birth to about 3 cubs in late February/early March and they spend their first 6 weeks underground living on their mother’s milk, hence the importance of carefully examining road casualties during April and May. Thereafter the cubs will gradually be introduced to the outside world and weaned onto earth worms and the rest of their menu. Although it’s not unusual to find small cubs out and about in the middle of the day, it can be difficult to differentiate between inquisitive and orphaned cubs but please do not attempt to pick them up. Instead ring either 07813 20829,  07779 207648  or our Badgerline Answerphone 01743 271999 for advice.

 

There are many excellent books and research papers providing detailed information about all aspects of badgers lifestyle and while your particular interest will dictate your choice, anything you choose is bound to improve and stimulate your knowledge of this iconic creature.