yellowish-gray mammal with a white stripe over the
top of its head, white cheeks, black feet, and a
black spot in front of each ear. The belly and
short tail are yellowish. Pelage is composed
of underfur with longer guard hairs. Because
of their shaggy coat and short stature, badgers
appear to flow along the ground. Total length: 22 to 28 inches.
Weight: 13 to 25 pounds.
Prefers open grasslands, shrub/grasslands, and
deserts. Non-forested habitats with soils
suitable for burrowing and support of fossorial prey
Very efficient predator of fossorial and
semifossorial prey. However, an opportunistic
feeder and supplements its diet with a variety of
mammals, birds, eggs, reptiles, amphibians, and
Mostly nocturnal, but also active during the day.
Efficient digger, digs out small rodents. Dens
in burrows of its own making. Breeds from May
through August; delayed implantation; young born
February to May; litter size ranges from one to
Badgers are well known for
their digging habits and nasty dispositions when
they are forced to defend themselves. An
important predator of gophers and prairie dogs, they
favor prairies, open farmlands and deserts.
Numerous excavations make badgers unpopular with
some farmers and ranchers. Viewed with either
affection or disgust, badgers are expanding their
Adult badgers measure 30 to 35 inches in length,
including a short and well furred tail of 5 or 6 inches.
Body shapes are wide, giving a flat backed appearance.
Many adult badgers weigh 12 to 16 pounds, although
weights might increase to over 20 pounds in the late
fall as they store up layers of fat to sustain them
during periods of cold weather and deep snow.
Colors are mostly grey, with a
grizzled effect due to long guard hairs that have a
black band ending in a white tip. Underfur is
either a light tan, or a creamy white. A white
stripe from the nose leads between the eyes and back
over the head of the badger, ending between the
Ears are set low along the sides
of the head. Lower legs and feet are black
in color. There are five toes on each foot and
four of the toes on the front feet have exceptionally
long claws of up 11/2 to 1 3/4 inches in length.
Badgers have 34 teeth, including
four sharply pointed canine teeth. All badgers
have a pair of musk producing glands near the anus as
well as two skin glands located on the bellies.
Badgers mate in August or September.
Delayed implantation of fertilized eggs occurs, and the
development of the litter begins in late February when
the eggs attach to the uterus of the female. The
actual development time is approximately 9 weeks before
2 to 7 young are born. Although the female has 8
teats, litter sizes tend to be small, and a litter size
of 3 is common. Females care for the litter by
themselves. Juveniles disperse in late summer to
begin solitary lifestyles.
Badgers are territorial throughout most of the year.
Most territories are about 3 or 4 square miles.
The size of the territory might vary somewhat due to the
availability of rodents, a preferred food. It
seems as if territories are not defended against other
badgers, or territories overlap regularly in good
habitats. Habitats with sandy or porous
soils are preferred. Badgers frequent wooded areas
when soils are suitable for digging. Other than
the dispersal of juveniles, badgers do not seem to
emigrate. Typically walking from place to place,
they can trot or bound along at a gallop when they chose
Badgers have excellent senses of
hearing and smell. Both serve in locating food
species, which are usually rodents in underground dens.
Vision is good, and enables a badger to recognize danger
at a distance. Badgers have been known to plug the
exit holes of prey species before the badger tunnels
underground to capture the prey. The long claws
serve to loosen the soil and pass it backwards where the
hind feet kick the soil out behind the digging animal.
This dirt is often kicked backwards 6 or 8 feet in an
almost continuous arc by a badger digging in earnest.
Badgers close their eyes as they dig underground.
They rely upon smell and hearing to continue digging
towards the prey.
Even though Badgers have
relatively small territory zones, a number of dens are
used regularly over different parts of the territory.
These underground dens are quite often elaborate.
Most tunnels are 6 to 8 feet deep and 20 to 30 feet long
to the main chamber which is elevated to discourage
flooding. A smaller chamber s also dug underground
to serve as a toilet area, and many dens have several
entrance holes. Dens that have been used for
generations by badgers may have as many as 30 to 40
exits, and tunnels as deep as 15 feet.
Bedding grass and leaves are sometimes removed from the
den chamber for airing out by a den entrance, after
which it is taken back down into the chamber for reuse.
Some badgers have demonstrated
that they will tolerate a fox or coyote sharing the same
den. In 1871, a lost Canadian boy shared a den
with a badger, which at first tried to drive him away,
and then appeared to adopt him by bringing him food.
Badgers are determined fighters when they are
threatened. Their loose fitting skin prevents the
from being held securely by another animal.
Badgers do not hibernate, but
they do sleep for extended periods of time in northern
states during extended periods of cold weather and deep
snow. Wintering dens can sometimes be found in
woodlands, where the frost does not penetrate as deeply.
They can stay underground for weeks at a time, but they
come out to hunt occasionally as they do not store food.
Other than rodents, badgers also
eat skunks, snakes, birds and their eggs, worms,
insects, berries and carrion. Rattlesnakes are eaten
when a available but the badgers do not eat the
rattlesnake head. Carrion is probably an important
winter food when the frozen ground is difficult or
impossible to dig in.
The condition of it's claws are
important to a badger. The species sharpens
their long claws by scratching on trees or posts.
A badger is considered to be old at 12 years of
Best Management Practices