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Species Spied: Badger

Overview

Species: Badger

Scientific Name: Meles meles

Family: Mustelidae (otters, weasels, badgers)

Badgers are the largest carnivore in the British Isles - although their diet consists mainly of earthworms.

Apart from other badger species, their closest relatives are other members of the mustelidae family, including weasels, stoats, martens, polecats and otters.

Click on the tabs above to find out more and see NatureSpy photos and videos of this species.

Posts with badgers...

Identification & behaviour

How to identify:

Badgers are instantly recognisable with their long black and white striped face, black or grey stocky body and short tail. Their forepaws have long, strong claws which they use for digging.

Behaviours you may see:

Badgers tend to live in social groups consisting of a number of adults and young. The dominant male (boar) will mark his range and fiercely protect it against male outsiders.

Badgers are omnivorous (they eat plants and animals) meaning they are very adaptable to different habitats. Earthworms are usually very important in their diet and a single badger can eat hundreds of worms a night! Watch a badger scent marking and foraging here.

Badgers are also very curious and are often intrigued by our camera traps & one has even tried to direct a NatureSpy video!

Camera trap tips

A ltl acorn camera trap badgers

A mud-smeared camera trap

Where to find badgers

Badgers are widespread across mainland UK and Ireland.

You are most likely to find them in woods and pasture land but they are very adaptable animals and can be found in many types of habitat, including urban areas.

Badgers live in setts; large underground systems of tunnels and rooms. They inherit their setts from the previous generation and they therefore can be centuries old. Setts are often found on free-draining banks or in natural crevices.

Badgers and their setts are protected by law, and you should not approach or disturb a sett or badger under any circumstances unless you have a license. This includes camera trappers - if you know the location of a badger sett, putting a camera trap right amongst the holes can constitute disturbance. Please exercise caution and if in doubt, do not place any camera traps and contact the Badger Trust or your local police force (non-emergency).

Badgers often use the same well-worn paths close to their setts, and these provide ideal places to put camera traps up without disturbing them.

Be warned however - your camera trap will need to be fairly low to the ground, as badgers are large mammals but have a low shoulder height - this means your camera will be in the 'sniff zone'! It is not uncommon for us to retrieve camera traps and find that badgers have given them a good snuffle, smearing mud all over them in the process...!

Settings & timers

Many people believe that badgers hibernate, though this is not really the case, particularly in the UK. They do often stay below ground for days at a time if the temperature is very cold to conserve energy but they may be around at any time of the year. Watch badgers out and about in the February snow here.

Badgers are most active at night (nocturnal) although occasionally they may be seen foraging during the day, though this is rare. Set your camera trap to come on in the late evening or at night for the best chance to capture a badger.

Following trails...

Badger’s have five toes and have much larger footprints than other mustelids (3.5 – 4.5cm wide). They often leave droppings in a latrine (a small hole) and are very clean animals. They change the bedding in their setts regularly, and as mentioned above, often use the same trails around their sett to move around, leaving well-worn paths.

You may also spot signs of their foraging for worms - pockets of earth displaced by their large claws.

Photos

Badger camera trap photos

Videos

Badger camera trap videos

References and more information:

Badger – The Mammal Society

The Badger Trust