British Wildlife Centre Species Collection

 Badger - Meles meles

The badger is the largest member of the Mustelid family and Britains largest land carnivore. They are nocturnal, emerging at dusk in summer to spend the night foraging. In winter they are much less active but do not hibernate. They live in social groups of 4 - 12 adults and when not active they lie up in an extensive system of underground tunnels and nesting chambers known as a sett. The female is called the sow, the male the boar.

Badgers are now protected by a number of laws. The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 consolidated past legislation, which had made badger baiting and digging illegal and in addition made it an offence to damage, destroy or obstruct their setts.

This protection has enabled the UK badger population to dramatically increase to the point where it is said to equal that of the red fox. The issue of the badgers role in the transmission of bovine tuberculosis to cattle is very controversial, there are other factors apart from badgers which need to be studied before a final conclusion can be reached.



Origin: Native.
Size: Head/body : about 75 cm, tail 15 cm.
Weight 8 - 9 kg in spring, 11 - 12 kg in autumn

Description: Thick set, round-backed, very powerful. Black & white striped face. Coarse, grey body fur, black on legs.

Habitat: Favour woodland close to arable farmland. They prefer a well drained soil and often dig their setts under matted tree roots to provide stability to the soil.

Nest: Nest chambers in the tunnels are lined with dry grass, bracken and straw. Bedding may be taken to the entrance of the sett in order to air in the sun.

Young: One litter of 2 - 5 cubs born from January to March. Mating takes place during the summer, implantation delayed until December.

Diet: Earthworms make up 50% of the diet, also includes insects, bulbs, small mammals, blackberries, grain, carrion and windfall fruit.

Population: Estimated to be 300,000 adults living in 50,000 groups, 50,000 are killed each year on the roads and 10,000 are still killed each year by illegal baiting.


British distribution

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