Clumsy cousin of a weasel

When my mum first saw an European badger in the wild she told me that it reminds her a pillow on legs. Even though badger body is definitely less elongated and much bulkier than weasels, minks or ferrets, a badgers belong to family of Mustelids (Mustelidea). In each continent (except Antarctica) is inhabited by different species of badgers, however they all are quite brave, defensive and look similar.

European badger (Meles meles)
An European badger (Meles meles) is the largest species of badgers.
Faeces badger
Dark blue color of excrement of an European badger indicates that he ate a lot of blueberry.

What badgers eat?

Even though badgers are carnivorous animals, they eat whatever they can swallow – both animals and plants. Earthworms, insects, carrion, cereals, fruits, rodents – whatever fits in the mouth of the badger is a potential food source. That is the reason why they are called opportunistic omnivores.

Where badgers live?

Badgers are living in the underground caves which they dig by themselves. Compared to other animals which prefer this type of housing they are extremely clean. Badgers take care of their excrement, old fur, leftovers and etc. by removing them from the cave and the territory near the entrance. If you found cave with a lot of bones, faeces that means that you probably found a cave of a fox, mango, raccoon or other carnivore.

Cave of badger
An European badger nearby its cave.

Furthermore, badgers not only are pedantic about they cave but are extremely clean themselves. They brushing they fur, bathing in sand baths regularly and even taking care of fur of other family members.

Strange sleeping habits

Compared to other carnivores badgers not only have unusual diet but also weird sleeping habits. In northern climates they are sleeping during the winter. They preparing for it during autumn when there are plenty of food, growing great layer of fat. When temperatures drops or after first heavy snowfall they are blocking all the entrances to their cave and spending all the cold period underground. Most of the northern European countries celebrate “half winter” as a day when badgers according to legend changes the side they are sleeping on.

However, as most of carnivores during warmer months they are most active during the night. So the highest possibility to encounter with the badger is at late evening or early morning.

How to recognize a badger?

As you probably already noticed, they are pretty unique compared to other mustelids. Bright black and white pattern is easy recognizable. However, even though badgers are common species around both wild and urban areas, they are quite cautious and not that easily observable.

Badgers have totally different footprints than other carnivores. Actually, they are basically identical to brown bears footprint except they are much smaller. So if you noticed a footprint with all five prints of fingers and nails – it probably the badger.

Footprint badger
Footprints of an European badger

Character of a badger

Even though badgers seems cute and friendly they have big personalities. They are very defensive and persistent as a result larger carnivores do not feed on them. Even when humans come near badgers family caves they are trying to scare them off with strange sounds and confident pose.

Conservation status of a badgers is good. Badgers are well distributed over their natural distribution ranges even though they are not must abundant carnivore species. These white and black fellows are easily adaptable so do not be surprised if one day they come to your garden or recycle bin to check whats new on a menu.

Clumsy badger
Badgers have short legs and large feet compared to other mustelids.

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