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Badgers: Facts, Endangerment & Saving!

Badgers

Did you know that badgers are cousins of ferrets, otters, and an animal called the wolverine? They're all part of the Mustelid family, and European badgers are found in Britain, throughout Europe and even extend into the Middle East!

There are 11 species of badgers, all living in varied habitats, from western Europe to southeast Asia!

Today, we'll talk about European Badgers. 

Oi! My Food.

As a living symbol of the British countryside, these little folks sport short and powerful legs on a stout body that prefers the underground!

Illustration depicting the outside view of a badger sett on the left and the inside of the sett on the right

These tunnel-like burrows are called setts; they often extend into running 50 metres long, and house between 4 and 8 badgers.

Larger setts could be 100 metres long and have 50 entrances!

Together, a group of badgers are called a clan, but they won't always get along with each other or act cooperatively, so you'll often find that badgers forage for their own food and don't often reap group benefits. Though, in larger, older setts (sometimes being over 100 years old!), badger residents will be descendants of the same social group (clan). 

Mate, You Smell...

If you've been following our blogs, you'll know that it's quite common in the animal kingdom to use smell as a form of communicating. Badgers are no exception: with several scent glands, they generate a variety of odours throughout their body to send information signals - sometimes this also includes warnings and marital status! 

3 badgers on forest ground, looking about for food

Have you ever felt that members of the same human family have a shared scent? Whenever you sleepover at, say, your cousins, do you notice their bedding smells like them/their perfumes/colognes? Badger clans are the same!

Studies show that members of the same clan share similar scents, and this can often result in stronger bonds between the group. 

Fancy Some Worms?

Like foxes, badgers have a varied diet, sometimes called ''opportunistic omnivores'', though worms will make up 60% of their daily consumption. Did you know adult badgers can eat as many as 200 worms a night?

3 badgers feeding on some grass and flower bulbs in a field

But The Kids Are Cute!

So badger mating patterns aren't limited to any given season or period of the year, but because of their... unique reproduction technique, they only produce one litter in the year. Generally, a mother will birth 2-3 cubs in a litter, but it can vary between 1-5 cubs. 

Did you know that badger cubs often display adult behaviours at only 16 weeks? That includes scent marking and grooming! 

Badger cubs are often born in chambers that the mother prepares using all sorts of natural resources (leaves, fern, etc); and this also keeps her little ones warm. Eventually, after 12 weeks, will the cubs emerge above ground, and they'll go about life as their parents and adult peers. 

Are Badgers Endangered?

In the UK, badgers and their setts are protected by two pieces of legislation:

  1. The Wildlife & Countryside Act, 1981;
  2. The Protection of Badgers Act, 1992. 

So, badgers are one of the only predators to hedgehogs and are sometimes blamed for the decline in hedgehog numbers across the country. Though, their biggest threat is habitat loss and mistreatment. 

Badger in a grassy field, looking up and toward the camera

Badgers are also sometimes culled because of bTB (bovine Tuberculosis) transmission to cattle, causing serious health issues in both livestock and surrounding humans because all mammals are vulnerable to it. Resultantly, several organisations aimed at helping badgers, including the Badger Trust & the Wildlife Trusts, endeavour to vaccinate badgers against bTB. 

Besides the health risks that badgers are susceptible to, many also suffer from road collisions, like foxes. Most end up suffering from severe wounds and injuries and require emergency veterinary care due to broken limbs and internal damage.

The Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital

As a result of habitat loss, road collisions causing both injured and orphaned badgers, and the dangers from bTB infection & transmission, badgers bought to the Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital receive treatment for various conditions.

a member of an animal welfare centre holding up badger cubs after treatment

The hospital provides round the clock feeding and care for badger cubs, and after weaning, efforts are made to reintroduce the cubs into the wild. This is so that they learn caution of human contact and are gradually able to better take care of themselves.

Bare Kind donates 10% of profits on our Save the Badger socks to the Hospital. These are to be launched soon! Did you know that the Hospital is currently raising funds to construct new badger rehabilitation enclosures? The new centers will include improved facilities and care enrichment, allowing the Hospital to better care for more badgers! Together, our socks can help contribute to that!


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