European Badger (Meles meles)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family:    Mustelidae
Size:    Length: 2 to 3 feet (61 to 91 cm)
Weight: 14 to 37 pounds (6.5 to 17 kg)
Diet: Earthworms, amphibians, small mammals, carrion, grains, honey, fruit and fungi
Distribution: Europe and Asia
Young:  1 to 6 cubs, once per year
Animal Predators:  Cubs are sometimes killed foxes, golden eagles or buzzards
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Groups: Clan   Male: Boar   Female: Sow   Young: Cub
Lifespan: 5 to 8 years in the wild and 19 years in captivity



·        Badgers have poor eyesight, but a keen sense of smell and hearing.

·        Badger hair is used for artists’ brushes and shaving brushes.

·        American badgers are somewhat similar in colouring, but have very different temperaments.



European badgers have a narrower, rounder head than that of American badgers. These badgers have a white face with black stripes running along the sides and a black nose. They have small, white-tipped ears and black and white fur, which has a grey appearance, on their body.



Badgers sometimes share their large, underground burrows (called setts) with other small mammals such as rabbits and foxes, although they do not use the same part of the sett at the same time. Their setts are large, with more than one entrance and several different chambers. These badgers are found in Europe and Asia. They live in wooded areas near open, cultivated land, and travel long distances in search of food. They keep their setts for generations—there are setts that are believed to date back more than 100 years.


Feeding Habits

European badgers’ diets consist of earthworms, amphibians, small mammals, carrion, grains, honey, fruit, and fungi. Other sources of food include insects, slugs, roots and plants.  Badgers are capable swimmers.



Year-round mating occurs, but the two most active times are late winter to mid summer, then again in mid autumn. The implantation of the eggs in the womb is delayed until December, and one to six cubs are born in February, in a special nursery area of the sett. Their eyes remain closed for the first month of their lives, and they nurse for approximately two and a half months. Badgers cubs are very playful; their games include playfighting and “King of the Castle,” wherein a cub sits at the top of a rock or log, only to be pushed out of the way by the other cubs, who also want to be “king.” Many cubs with their families forever. If they do decide to leave, they will go by either late summer or the following spring.



Badgers are sociable and live in clans of six to 23, but usually 12 or 14 individuals, consisting of a dominant male and female, and their offspring.  They have friendly, playful dispositions and have even come into backyards to eat out of humans’ hands  Clan members mark each other with scent for recognition. If threatened, European badgers exude a malodorous musk and put up a fierce fight.



The Protection of Badgers Act 1992 made it a criminal offence to disturb badgers or their setts in Britain.



Badger Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US