Posted 6th Oct 2013
To celebrate National Badger Day on 6th October we've got some fun facts about this curious creature, where to spot them and how you can support their conservation through The Wildlife Trusts' campaign
The badger is Britain's largest land predator, easily recognisable for its black, white and grey colouring and distinctive striped face. Though we know what they look like, many of us have never seen this elusive creature in the flesh, as it goes about its nocturnal life full of seemingly secret habits. It is unlikely you will see badgers anywhere during the day, but if you're out at night they can often be spotted in grassland, heathland, woodland, towns or even in your own back garden - throughout England, Wales, Northern Ireland and most of Scotland. Try looking out for their paw tracks too, particularly if it snows. If you don't want to wait, there are designated badger hides and organised watches that happen throughout the UK where you have the chance to see these elusive creatures up close, on a nightly basis.
Here are just a few organisations you can get involved with:
Did you know...?
- Badgers are part of the Mustelid family related to stoats, weasels and otters
- Badgers are social creatures living in family groups in a burrow system known as a sett, feeding on small mammals, earthworms, fruit, roots and bulbs
- The sett is made up of several connecting underground tunnels, nest chambers and toilet areas
- The badger inherits the sett from their parents and continues to expand it. Some are centuries old
- Badgers are as common as the red fox
- Badgers can grow up to 1.2m in length
- On average badgers live for up to three years
- Cubs are born in January or February, but spend the first two or three months living solely underground
- Badgers clean out their own sleeping chambers, carrying old hay and grass under their chin to help prevent fleas in the area that they sleep
- Badgers are thought to have been present in Britain for over 300,000 years
- The male is referred to as a boar, the female a sow and the young a cub
- Badgers do not hibernate
The badger cull
Badgers are currently under close scrutiny as carriers and transmitters of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB), a disease that is affecting our cattle in Britain and subsequently has led to badger culling in some areas. The Wildlife Trusts are campaigning against a badger cull, to find out more or if you want to help visit www.wildlifetrusts.org/badgers-and-bovineTB.
By Natalie Mason
Images courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts: Faye Durkin, Jon Hawkins and Andrew Mason