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Feature Creature - Badger

Credits: Wildstock

So the subject of this feature creature is the BADGER. Instantly recognisable, these well known animals are actually very difficult to see. Their nocturnal habits, underground living arrangements and keen nose for danger means that most people go their whole lives without seeing one.

Fantastic facts:

 

*Favourite foods: earthworms, beetles, grubs and peanuts (when they can get them)

 

*Enemies: roads and nosy foxes looking for a cosy new den

 

*Super power: really strong digging claws for burrowing and uprooting food

 

*Latin name: Meles meles     *Habitat: woodland, often at the edges of farmland

 

But what are these black and white creatures and what can they do? Badgers are:

 

Weasels

 

Well, related to weasels at least. Badgers, weasels, stoats, polecats, pine martens and otters all come from the same family of animals - the mustelids. Although badgers are much larger and stockier than weasels, they have a similarly long body and share the same taste for both meat and plants as some of their cousins.  

 

Clean and tidy

 

Badgers are social animals that live together in groups of up to 20 animals. The setts they dig often contain many chambers linked together. Sleeping chambers are made warm and cosy with bedding - usually dried leaves or grass - which they collect and bring down at night. But like all beds, they need changing regularly to keep them fresh and clean. One of the easiest ways to tell if a badger sett is being used is to look for old discarded bedding outside.

 

The members of a badger group also groom each other regularly. This helps to keep fur nice and clean, removes nasty parasites and also helps to build relationships between them. Who wouldn't enjoy a nice rummage through a friend's hair? For a badger, there's also the chance of coming across a tasty morsel or two!

 

Hungry

 

Badgers like to eat. A lot. It's particularly important in badger society to put on lots of weight in the autumn, as although they don't hibernate properly, they spend a lot of time sleeping and staying warm in their setts over winter. When they've finished grooming and cleaning their sett, badgers spend a busy night looking for food and eating as much as they can.

 

There are lots of things on the badger menu too. Badgers are omnivorous (which means they will eat both meat and plants). Some of the meals a badger might enjoy are:

 

- Juicy or crunchy minibeasts like worms, grubs and beetles  

- Plant roots, berries and nuts

- Dog food, peanuts and other handouts from people

- Small animals (if they can catch them)

- Any dead animals they come across. Yummy! 

 

Images: (c) Wildstock