Badger

©Mark Davison

Badger scratching

©Elliot Neep

European badger

Scientific name: Meles meles
The black-and-white striped Badger is an iconic species in the UK and our biggest land predator. It is a common species, turning up in gardens, as well as inhabiting woodland, farmland and grassland.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 75-100cm
Tail: 15cm
Weight: 8-12kg
Average lifespan: 5-8 years

Conservation status

Protected in the UK under the Protection of Badgers Act, 1992, and the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

January to December

About

The Badger is our biggest land predator. It is a member of the Mustelid family, so is related to Stoats, Weasels and Otters. It is just as common as the Red Fox, but more nocturnal and elusive in its habits. Badgers live in large family groups in a burrow system known as a 'sett'. An occupied sett can be recognised by the tidy burrow entrances, marked with piles of used bedding (hay and leaves), and by nearby latrine pits where the occupants leave their droppings. Badgers feed on small mammals, ground-nesting birds' eggs, earthworms, fruit, roots and bulbs; they use their strong front paws to dig for food. Cubs are born in January or February, but spend the first two or three months underground, only emerging in the spring; this is the best time to spot Badgers.

How to identify

An unmistakable animal, the Badger is large and grey, with a short, fluffy tail, black belly and paws, and a black-and-white striped face.

Distribution

Found throughout England, Wales, Scotland (except for the far north) and Northern Ireland. Absent from Scottish islands, the Isle of Man, the Isles of Scilly and the Channel Islands.

Did you know?

Badgers can eat several hundred earthworms a night! They are also one of the only predators of Hedgehogs - their thick skin and long claws help them to get past the viscous spines. If food is in short supply, Badgers will forage during the day, as well as at night. If there are Badgers nearby, you can tempt them into your garden by leaving peanuts out - a tasty snack for our striped friends.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts believe that the scientific evidence available does not support a cull (it would not decrease incidences of bTB transmission from Badgers to cattle, but would simply disperse Badger populations to the detriment of the countryside). Instead, we are urging for vaccinations against bTB to be the way forward. You can help by supporting The Wildlife Trusts and our campaign - from becoming a member, to contacting your local MP, there are lots of ways you can get involved.