Meles meles - Badger

Phylum: Chordata - Class: Mammalia - Order: Carnivora - Family: Mustelidae

badger

Badgers are found throughout England, Wales and Scotland, but the countryside of Wales and its relatively mild climate suit them particularly well. They particularly favour wooded areas with grassland alongside, and this makes West Wales in particular a very good place to go if you hope to see a badger in the wild. Badgers vary greatly in size, with an adult head and body length of 60 to 90 cm; they weight between 7 and 24 kg.

Most of the daytime, badgers remain underground, either in natural crevices or, most commonly, in tunnels, called setts, which they excavate. Several families of badgers may share such a home. A badger sett comprises a complex system of tunnels, often twenty metres long and as deep as three metres below the surface. Where their tunnels are only shallow, they sometimes push rocks up above the surface, and harvesting machinery is sometimes damaged as a result of the rotating blades or drums hitting rocks hidden among the corn.

badger sett

Although badgers eat worms, frogs, birds' eggs, and small mammals and even carrion, they also forage for roots and berries. Because their diet it so varied, badgers do not need to travel great distances when out on their nocturnal feeding forays, and it is rare for them to go more than a few kilometres from their home.

From late October to late December, badgers sleep for an increasing amount of the time, but even then in mild weather they wake up and go out in search of food. They become very active from February onwards, and a litter of one to five badger cubs is born in spring. The young are blind at birth. By late summer the cubs are able to fend for themselves, but it is common for them to remain with the mother through their first winter.

Pictures copyright Gerald James and Pat O'Reilly

For more superb badger pictures and a wealth of information about badger habitats, behaviour and conservation, visit the web site of Neath Port Talbot Badger Group.


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