Species Focus – European Badger – Meles meles

Species Focus – European Badger – Meles meles

Blog by Ciara Laverty

Arguably one of our most charismatic mammals, the badger is instantly recognisable by its black and white striped face. They are members of the mustelid or weasel family and are related to otters, stoats and pine martens.

A sociable species, badgers tend to live in groups of 2 or more individuals called a cete or clan. Their stocky build, powerful legs and long claws make them excellent diggers. They excavate their own setts, this is a network of tunnels and chambers. Some setts have been occupied for centuries!

Badgers are predominantly a nocturnal species, and are rarely seen in the flesh. However there are subtle signs that indicate the presence of badgers in an area.  Look out for coarse, white hair with a black band near the tip snagged in barbed wire or bramble. Creatures of habit, badgers tend to create well-worn pathways while out foraging.  They are also very hygienic and will dig a hole called a latrine to defecate in!

Badger prints are very easy to identify, kidney shaped pad topped with 5 long clawed toes.  The inner toe is slightly shorter and doesn’t always appear in a print.

Badgers are opportunistic omnivores, with a wide ranging diet made up of both plants and animals. Look out for snuffle holes- small holes made by a badger’s snout whilst foraging for ground dwelling invertebrates like earthworms and leather jackets.  They will also consume berries, nuts, small mammals like mice as well as plant roots and bulbs.

Trail cameras are an excellent tool that allow us a glimpse into the lives of these secretive mammals.

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