The Neath Port Talbot Badger Group

Protecting Our Local Badgers



ABOUT BADGERS

CLASSIFICATION
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Sub-Family: Melinae
Genus: Meles
Species: Meles Meles
  
 
The Badger is one of Britains' oldest and largest wild animals and is thought to have been present for possibly 500,000 years. The badger is related to the otter, stoat and weasel.

It is easily recognised by a white head with a black stripe over each eye and ear. Not all European badgers have these markings, all-black, all-white, and all-brown badgers are also known.

They have excellent hearing and keen sense of smell, although their sight is quite poor, being shortsighted.

Badgers have very strong bodies, particularly shoulders, short legs and a coat of course hairs. Claws are powerful and used for digging.

Male badgers are called boars, females sows, and young cubs.

Boars are about 1 metre (roughly 3 feet) long and weigh 12 to 14 kg (roughly 20-26lbs), with sows being somewhat smaller.

Badgers live in underground tunnels and chambers called setts which are mainly found in woodland slopes, although they can be found in a variety of places, including beach cliffs and coal heaps.

There are three types of sett, a main sett (largest) used all the time, an auxiliary sett (around five entrances) used as a sort of 'overflow' for the main sett, and an outlier sett (only 1 or 2 entrances) used for convenient stop-offs while out foraging.

Active setts will usually show signs of activity, including footprints, hair, scratchmarks on trees, dung pits (also called latrines) and well used paths.

One of the tasks of the badger group is to collect this type of information to record that the sett is actively used by badgers - often baiters who dig into setts claim that it wasn't used by badgers and they were after foxes.

Badgers are territorial animals and each social group has its own distinctive scent. They will use dung pits to mark out their territory from other groups.

Mating can really takes place all year round. To ensure cubs are not born too early, eg. in winter when there is less food available, sows undergo delayed implantation whereby the fertilised egg (blastocyst) does not implant in the womb until the end of winter or early spring.

Gestation period is around 10 weeks.

Badger cubs are born between mid January and mid March, and emerge from the sett when they are about 9 or 10 weeks old. Cubs become independent of their mother by around the following autumn, and are fully mature by 2 years.

Adult badgers are good parents, both protecting and disciplining the cubs whilst also teaching them to forage for food.

They are clean animals in that they do not eat in the sett and regularly remove old bedding materials, made up of grass and leaves etc, and replace it with new. Toilet habits are strictly for the outside of the sett.

Favourite foods of badgers are earthworms, but they also eat cereals, insects, fruit and small birds and mammals. Although they are designed as carnivores, ie. with canine teeth, they have adopted omnivore habits and eat both meats and plant materials.

 
The chart below illustrates the proportions of different foods eaten by badgers



The Badger Calendar

January Sows Pregnant Activity Irregular
February Peak of Cub Births Courtship Noisy
March Peak of Road Deaths Much Bedding Collection
April Cubs Ready to Emerge Cubs Explore Sett Entrance
May Mating Cubs Explore Around Sett
June End of Sow Lactation Early Evening Emergence
July Drought Increases Road Deaths Cubs 6kg (13lb) Feeding Independently
August Frequent Digging Cereals May Be Taken in Droughts
September Emergence Getting Later Much Bedding Collection and Digging
October Fruits in Diet Rapid Weight Gain
November Emergence Late Least Mating Activity
December Sleep Longer And Deeper Implantation Of Eggs in Sow