Badgers are fantastic diggers. They live in family groups of around six individuals in underground homes known as setts. Setts can consist of many rooms, entrances and tunnels. They keep their living quarters clean and will 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.
All about the Badger (European)
- There are eight different species of badger.
- The word badger is said to derive from the French ‘bêcheur’ meaning ‘digger’.
- European Badgers are native to almost all of Europe and some parts of the Middle East.
- 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!
- Family groups live together in setts, typically of around six badgers. 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!
- Badger-baiting was once a popular blood sport, in which badgers were captured alive, placed in boxes, and attacked with dogs. In the UK, this was made illegal in 1835.
- The hair of the European badger has been used for centuries for making sporrans and high end shaving brushes.
- 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