November 2018 – Badgers

BADGERS – THEIR BIZARRE BEHAVIOUR AND BIOLOGY BY PAMELA MYNOTT FROM LEICESTERSHIRE AND RUTLAND BADGER TRUST

Pamela delivered a presentation with videos of badger behaviour of which took many years of badger watching in the dark of the night sitting quietly by badger setts to get the footage.

The badger is a member of the mustelid family and the polecat is a relation.  They find food in grassland and lawns and love earthworms.   Also they love to dig up wasps’ nests.  You can tell what badgers have been eating as they dig holes and deposit their dung in the holes.   Badgers can eat Yew tree berries but of course they are poisonous to other species.  Research by Kew Gardens on badgers eating Yew tree berries shows the poison matter goes undigested.  Also badgers like to eat Maize crops.

Badgers have a distinctive face, suggested it was camouflage and for protection.  Badger cubs a few days old have stripes starting from their nose.  Rare albino badgers are sometimes seen in the wild and the counties of Kent and Surrey have them.  Also occasionally a ginger badger can be found but these are very rare.

Badgers are unusual nocturnal animals as the eye reflects light back for night vision.  If you see a badger in the day time there is usually something wrong.  A misconception about the badger is that they do come out of their setts in winter, they live on their fat they make in the autumn.  They can swim, are good climbers and well equipped for this with strong legs and sharp claws.

They have an unusual family life, they stay in their family group and establish a family home.   The sows (female) are dominate over the males.   The dominant females breed and the male badger (boar) is short lived as they fight with other boars.

Badgers mate just after the birth of the cubs but also mate at other times of the year.  Cubs are born in February and stay underground in their setts.   Badger setts are usually several holes dug on a sandy slope, they prefer to dig in sand or chalk.   Also they find unusual remote old buildings such as old Victorian buildings, old railway tracks, old culverts, disused farm buildings to dig out their setts away from human habitation.

Members of the group have permission to close setts as people do have badgers digging up their lawns and gardens.   One recent call out was to a badger who got through a cat flap and was found asleep in a warm kitchen.  Another rescue was to badger who had got into a bathroom and started to tear up the new lino flooring.   Most badgers live for 5 or 6 years but it is known for some to live for 14 years.

Pamela showed us video footage of badgers taking their straw and hay bedding going backwards into their setts.

Pamela and her husband are totally dedicated to helping the cause of the badger, going out on rescues when it all started in 1995.

Report by Stephanie Taylor

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