The simplest words for introducing Badgers animal are digging machines. With their strong and sharp claws, they can burrow up to a foot within minutes. However, they don’t dig only for pleasure but for their food, shelter, and even for survival.
Their short legs and stout body make them seem like kind and unharmful small mammals. But the truth is, they are highly notorious and don’t fear fighting much larger animals. Sounds crazy, right? But that’s not all. There is plenty of interesting information about badgers that you’ll be surprised to know.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to stroll through the google search for this information. We have rounded up everything related to badgers for you. So let’s dive in to explore some compelling facts about this iconic creature.
Badgers Natural History
The word badger comes from Middle English ‘bageard’, meaning marked by a badge, and the French word ‘becheur,’ meaning to dig.
Both these words truly justify their meaning as badgers have a badge-like white mark borne, and they love digging a lot. So that’s the origin of their name, but where did badger animals originate from?
That’s uncertain till today. Though the state animal of Wisconsin, it has nothing to do with the origin of badgers. They are correlated because ancestors of Wisconsin used to sleep in mines like badgers who also sleep in their self-created burrows.
People mocked them then, but Wisconsinites now take pride in being called a badger state because it represents strength and tenacity.
Badger Scientific Classification (Species)
The scientific name of the badgers is Taxidea Taxus. They belong to the family Mustelidae and are polyphyletic. But they are united due to their fossorial activity and squat-shaped bodies. Overall, there are 17 species of badgers which are grouped into four categories.
Northern Hog Badgers (Arctonyx albogularis)Greater Hog Badger (Arctonyx collaris)Sumatran Hog Badger (Arctonyx hoevenii)
Japanese Badger (Meles anakuma)Asian Badger (Meles leucurus)European Badger (Meles meles)Caucasian Badger (Meles canescens)
Burmese Ferret Badgers (Melogale personata)Javan Ferret Badger (Melogale orientalis)Chinese Ferret Badger (Melogale moschata)Formosan Ferret Badger (Melogale subaurantiaca)Bornean Ferret Badger (Melogale everetti)Vietnam Ferret Badger (Melogale cucphuongensis)
Sunda Stink Badgers (Mydaus javanensis)Palawan Stink Badgers (Mydaus marchei)
Apart from these, two species, the American badger (Taxidea Taxus) and Honey badger (Mellivora capensis), aren’t classified into any of these groups. They are placed in separate sub-families.
If I’m asked to picture a badger, I’ll say you think of a panda with a stout body and claws lying on its four short limbs. That’s what a badger looks like. They have characteristic black and white strips on their face with small eyes and ears that are invisible in honey badgers.
Apart from that, a badger has a short bushy tail and shaggy fur whose color is stained by local soil. They can grow up to a meter long, including their tail.
Males are larger and weigh almost 15 Kg, while females are smaller and weigh around 10 Kg. Overall, badgers look like small wolverines due to their tiny legs and wedge-shaped body.
However, different species of badger animals have slightly different appearances. Like North American badgers are smaller than Eurasian badgers. Also, a Eurasian badger has black and white fur like other badgers, while an American badger has fur of different colors, such as brown, gray, and white.
Badgers are very adaptable when it comes to their habitat. They can live in deserts, woods, and meadows but prefer living in dry, open grasslands and fields. No matter their environment, they live by constructing underground dens using their long claws.
But this diversity isn’t limited to habitat; it also extends to the locations where they are found on earth. Badgers are found in North America, the UK, the rest of Europe, and even Asia. And that’s not all.
The Honey badger lives as far as Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arabian deserts. This diversity is because badgers can survive extreme weather and are very catholic in their diet.
Badgers are known to eat anything they can get their hands on. On their menu, earthworms top the list that consumes more than half of their diet. Additionally, badgers also eat rodents, insects, slugs, and bulbs. This is understandable as they spend most of their time in underground dens.
And when they come out of their setts, they treat themselves to fruits, including strawberries, apples, pears, and plums. That’s why you’ll always find elder bushes near badger’s homes, giving them constant access to food.
Until now, you’ll be thinking of badgers as flimsy animals eating tiny creatures and fruits. If so, you’re wrong.
Badgers are equipped with strong claws and a sharp sense of smell for hunting. They locate and dig into the nest of their prey in times of food shortage. They are keen hunters of hedgehogs, rabbits, and prairie dogs.
The honey badger also snatches honey from bees’ nests. They are always more than prepared to go toe to toe with other animals and get them on their dinner.
But that’s not all. When they can’t find anything like that, badgers even hunt poisonous reptiles like snakes and scorpions. This staunch the toughness as well as the bravery of badgers. And they aren’t only immune to poison; badgers have also experienced alcohol intoxication due to eating rotten fruit.
Badgers are the scrappiest and the most badass creatures you’ll ever encounter. Don’t be deceived by their size. While they look like tiny and timid animals, they are highly notorious opponents when provoked. They don’t even fear fighting large predators and poisonous animals. This is the reason they have earned the title of ‘belligerent as a badger.’
That’s one face of this tiny-looking ferocious creature. They have some habits which are exactly opposite to such grumpy animals. Badgers are known to take a nap in their cozy dark homes when winter rolls around. And this nap lasts for several days or weeks. However, it’s not a full-hibernation state and is referred to as torpor.
Another interesting behavior of badgers is digging. They dig as it’s their hobby, defense mechanism, and a way of finding food. So it’s not wrong to say Badgers live to dig and dig to live.
Though badgers live alone, once separated from their mother, they often socialize in groups called a Cete. Many badgers also team up with other animals, like coyotes, to hunt.
Badgers Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan
Badgers can mate at any time they want. However, due to delayed implantation, they only litter once a year.
The mating usually occurs in late summer or early autumn. And babies, called kits or cubs, are born in late winter or early spring between January and March. Male badgers can mate in the autumn of their second year, while female badgers are able to mate when they are four months old.
Badgers litter 1-5 cubs at a time. These baby badgers are born deaf and blind, so they stay with their mothers for several months. Their mothers nurse them before they are weaned at about 2-3 months. Finally, young badgers learn to forage for themselves and become independent at 5-6 months old.
Most badgers have an average lifespan of 4-10 years, but a few badgers can live as long as 14 years in the wild. The main reasons for their death are contracting diseases, being hit in accidents, and fighting other creatures. They are also hunted by humans and a few natural predators, such as eagles, wolves, and bears.
Are Badgers Carnivores, Herbivores or Omnivores?
Badgers are omnivores as they eat everything from flesh and fruits to bulbs and birds’ eggs. But there are a few exceptions. For example, the Chinese badger is primarily a herbivore, and the American badger is from the order Carnivora. Overall, badgers are classified as omnivores because they eat both plants and animals.
Though badgers eat plants, they don’t eat a lot of vegetation. Instead, they prefer eating seeds, legumes, fruits, and corn. Being carnivores, they also eat animals such as earthworms, rodents, and insects. They do so by plowing into the burrows of animals and hunting them.
While badgers are very catholic in their diet, there are a few things they will never eat. Badgers are known to avoid certain types of meat like pork and fish.
Can Badgers Be Kept As Pets?
The answer is maybe. But there is one thing I can guarantee; they will create a lot of trouble for you. Though badgers are small mammals, keeping them as pets takes a lot of guts and a high level of intuition. Because this mammal is known for its aggressive behavior, ferocious power, and ruthless hunting.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are several reasons that will prove the badger belongs to the wild. For one, they can’t be tamed; instead, they become more vicious and angry in captivity. Despite no reported cases of a badger biting humans, they are very unpredictable and can even harm humans.
Lastly, the badger cannot be kept as a pet in many developed countries. Domesticating a badger doesn’t make sense, even if there wasn’t any restriction. So if you have such an idea in mind, it’s better to control your desire. Or consider having a smaller and less fierce member of the weasel family like ferrets.
What Is the Difference Between a Skunk and a Badger?
Due to some similarities in appearance, people often get confused between a skunk and a stink badger. But it only takes a whiff to differentiate between the two. Both of them are stinky animals and use their secretions to repel predators.
But the spray of skunks smells like rotten eggs or spoiled cabbage, while badger’s secretions have a musky odor.
Well. No one wants to bear their stinky odor to know which one they are dealing with. So we have an alternative for you. Take a look at the tail. If it’s a small one, it’s a badger. And if you see a fluffy and long tail, you’re facing a skunk.
Keep one thing in mind here, if the skunk’s tail pops into the air, get back away quickly, as this is a sign of their spray attack.
Badgers Threat and Conservation Status
As per stats of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the badger does not feel threatened or endangered. Except for the greater hog badgers, who have been listed as vulnerable in the red list of IUCN. It’s so because the hog badger population has been declining for over three generations.
There are a few culprits for this decline. Badger cull has been practiced several times in the UK to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis. Additionally, hunting the badger hound was formerly a popular blood sport.
Though it’s not practiced today, badgers are still being killed to make brushes from badger hair. And badger is also the target of a few natural predators.
Despite these horrendous activities, the badger is still a very stable animal with just a few concerns about its population. Because at the same time, steps are being taken to protect the badger animals. One such step is banning badgers as pets or offering one for sale in the UK under the 1992 Protection of Badgers Act.
Till now, you have gone through a whole lot of info on badgers. That’s great. But wait, there’s more! We have gathered some interesting facts about badgers to amaze and astonish you. So take a look at them and flourish your knowledge about badger animals.
Badgers Make Their Beds
Ever thought of grumpy animals making their own bed? I can’t. Many lazy fellows like me aren’t even this disciplined. But a badger does make its bed and takes care of its comfort. Feeling a little guilty?
Scientists have reported that badgers clean their sleeping place every night. They do so by replacing the old grass and leaves with fresh ones. They also never poop in their setts and have separate communal bathrooms far away from badger’s home. So a badger is a very clean animal which I didn’t expect them to be.
Some Badger’s Homes are 100 Years Old
How’s this even possible? Well, it is. Though badgers are solitary creatures, European badgers are the ones who live together. And the dens created by them pass down from generation to generation. They also take care of the renovation and repair of their homes. This way, the homes of European badgers survive for long periods.
Badgers Have a Poor Eyesight
Seeing these mammals’ agility and fearless nature, it’s hard to believe this fact. But due to spending most of their time underground, their eyesight becomes weak. However, they compensate for this weakness with acute hearing and an excellent sense of smell. Their olfactory power is 700-800 times stronger than ours.
Badgers (Taxidea Taxus) are among the bravest and most fierce wild creatures. Despite their small size, they can drive fear and annoyance into large predators due to their fearless attitude.
They are adaptable and can survive in any environment where the soil is light and sandy. Badgers also aren’t picky eaters and eat a whole variety of food.
That’s all for today. If you’re an animal lover and a sucker for learning about different species, I hope you liked the article on this interesting creature.