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Badger (European)

Badgers clean out their sleeping chambers and drag old hay, grass, bracken and plastic bags outside by carrying it under their chin to prevent a build up of fleas and lice in the sleeping areas.

Badger (European)'s

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 Facts about badgers

  • There are eight different species of badger.
  • The word badger is said to derive from the French ‘bêcheur’ meaning ‘digger’.
  • Badgers have been present in the British Isles since at least 300,000-400,000 years ago.
  • A male badger is called a boar, a female is a sow and the young are called cubs. Interestingly, the Welsh name for badgers is ‘moch daear’ which translates to ‘earth pig’.
  • Badgers live in complex underground burrow system called ‘setts’ that they dig themselves. Some can be centuries old, as can the regular paths badgers use above ground!
  • A family group of, usually around six badgers live in each sett. Setts have a number of rooms or ‘chambers’ some for sleeping in others for having young in. There are a number of tunnels leading to the outside world. The largest sett in Britain was found to extend over 15x35m and had 12 entrances.
  • Badgers are incredibly clean and will not defecate (poo) in their sett – they have special latrines (communal toilets) comprising of shallow pits placed away from the setts on the edge of their territory. They will not bring food into the sett either.
  • Unlike dogs and foxes, badgers have five toes and very powerful, long claws, particularly on the front feet.
  • Badgers will eat several hundred earthworms every night, but also love insects, bluebell bulbs and elder berries - you can often find these bushes growing near to the setts.
  • Badgers have a keen sense of smell and can dig down for rabbit nests and grubs under the surface.
  • Because they have very thick skin and long claws they are one of the species that can kill and eat hedgehogs!
  • Badgers are protected in the UK by the Protection of badgers Act 1992 and schedule 6 of the wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is classified as a species of conservation concern by the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. They are listed under Appendix III of the Bern convention.
  • Although they are protected in the UK, badgers are under threat of being killed in large numbers in a misguided attempt to control TB in dairy cattle. Find out more about OneKind's Gett Sett for Badgers campaign.
  • Badgers can also be caught in indiscriminate snares. Find out about OneKind's campaign to create a Snare-Free Country.

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Quick Facts

  • Type: Mammal
  • Diet: Omnivore
  • Life span in the wild: Usually about 2 years, though can be up to 14 years
  • Size: Adults are usually 70-100cm long
  • Weight: Adults usually weigh between 6 and 14kg
  • Habitat: Woodland and earthworm rich pastures
  • Range: Most European countries
  • Scientific name: Meles meles
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