Badgers are nocturnal animals, meaning they are most active during the night and sleep during the day. They are mammals that primarily feed on earthworms, insects, and other invertebrates. They have large, strong front claws that are quite perfect for digging and long, strong noses suitable for rooting out food.
Badger Facts for Kids
- Badgers are highly territorial small mammals.
- They live in underground burrows
- A badger’s home is called a sett
- They live on average 24 years
- This Badger has a strong body, a short tail, and solid, short legs.
- They are one of the few mammals that live in groups
Everything You Need To Know About Badgers
They Are Adaptable
There are many badger species, from American Badgers most often found on the Great Plains of North America to Eurasian Badgers, which spread from Ireland all the way across Europe to parts of Asia, all the way to The Honey Badgers most often found in Africa. This shows just how widespread these animals have become and how adaptable they must be to the varying environments and habitats that they find themselves in across such varying continents.
They Have Unique Bodies
Their bodies are unique and perfect for their lifestyle. Their long claws and wide feet make moving around on the ground much easier, and their flat wedge-shaped bodies are perfect for the burrows that they call home. Their hair varies by species but can be black, white, brown, or gold, and there is some evidence to suggest that this helps with camouflage regarding the habitats that they are in, making them less visible to predators at night.
They Live In ‘Setts’
These setts are the underground burrows in which they live, which may stretch up to 50m underground. Up to 15 badgers may live in a sett at any one time, and this group is sometimes referred to as a clan. Rather than hunting as a group or splitting their food between the group, each individual in the sett is responsible for their own food and making sure they hunt for themselves. This is quite a unique behavior given how much time they spend together. Group animals typically pool resources, but not badgers!
Their Sense Of Smell Is Very Important
These animals, no matter their species, have an incredible sense of smell, and it is through smell that they communicate the most. They have multiple scent glands they use for different purposes. They use these various glands for secreting odors for different reasons, such as telling others when they are ready to mate or giving off warning signals that a predator is nearby. They may also secrete certain scents to show which sett they belong to, as clan members have similar scents.
They Are Omnivores
Most often described as opportunistic omnivores because of their general preference for fruit during the winter months. When the ground is soft, though, these animals prefer to eat worms above all else and can even consume 200 in a single night. Their long claws make digging for earthworms incredibly easy. When other food sources are unavailable, they have also been known to kill and eat hedgehogs, although this seems to be rare and is reserved for only extreme circumstances of hunger.
They Don’t Have A Breeding Season
They will mate at any time during the year, but their reproduction technique, known as ‘delayed implantation,’ means that they won’t actually give birth until around mid-February in most cases. Delayed implantation means that the fertilized egg is stored away from the uterus until resources are more abundant to increase the chances of their litter’s survival. When litters are born, they will stay inside the breeding den for 12 weeks or so before emerging above ground. There can be anywhere between 1 and 5 cubs born, with 2 or 3 being most common.
Their Skin Saves Their Neck
Quite literally. These animals have loose-fitting skin all over their body, making it incredibly difficult for a predator to get hold of them and attack them properly. Badgers are also incredibly defensive creatures and have even fought wolves when defending themselves and their clan. If a predator can’t get a good enough hold on them because of their skin, then the predator had better beware because those claws and teeth can be nasty!
They Pass Down More Than Just Their DNA From Generation To Generation
Remember before when we spoke about setts? Well, these setts can be seen as something similar to a family home. Rather than abandoning it after someone’s death, they pass these setts down the generations so that the social group maintains their sett. Much like a family home, these setts may need to be ‘renovated’ sometimes, and badgers will add on to their setts, making them even larger and creating even more entrances in their elaborate network of underground tunnels.
They Keep Their Setts Clean
They won’t even bring their food inside to consume, preferring to eat outside of their home. They also do not defecate in their set either and instead use a communal toilet known as a latrine. This shallow pit is dug somewhere close to the sett for easy access, but they are especially proud homeowners, making sure everything inside their sett is as clean as it can be.
They Will Fight Predators
As we’ve already mentioned, badgers will fight off animals much larger than themselves to survive. But dog packs, coyotes, birds such as eagles, and cougars also threaten them, all of which they will fight if necessary. Their sharp teeth, long claws, and defensive nature make them particularly difficult targets for these predators, and many opt for easier prey. In fact, there have been cases recorded in North America of American Badgers and coyotes working together in harmony during hunts rather than attacking each other!
They Don’t Actually Hibernate
Given their inactivity in winter, many people in the past mistakenly believed that they hibernated. During the coldest parts of winter, they will stay inside their burrows for days or even weeks and live off fat reserves. They may also sleep for up to 29 hours at a time during this time to conserve energy, but they do not technically hibernate and are still active, just less visible.
Not All Of Their Sense Are Great
Whilst they have a great sense of smell, which helps with hunting food as well as with communication with one another, and great hearing too, their eyesight is particularly bad. Given that they are nocturnal animals, this isn’t ideal, but thankfully their above-average sense of smell and hearing makes up for this, allowing them to hunt efficiently in the dark.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does a badger eat?
A badger is an omnivorous animal that mainly eats earthworms, beetles, small mammals, and fruits.
Are Badgers blind or deaf?
Badgers are neither blind nor deaf. Though their eyesight is not very good, their hearing is acute, and they can be very brave when defending themselves or their cubs.
How smart are badgers
The Badger is a very timid animal and is rarely seen. They are intelligent and have been observed using stones and sticks in their habitat.
What are Badger babies called?
Young badgers are called badger cubs. They are born blind and bald with ears that will stand up when they need to hear something. They stay in the sett for three months before leaving, but at first, they stay close by and watch the mother scooping out the new sett.
Are Badgers dangerous
Badgers aren’t dangerous to humans. They are, in fact, very timid and will run away from humans.
What is special about a badger
They have a keen sense of smell and are able to dig very quickly. Badgers sleep during the day and forage at night as they are nocturnal animals.