Due to the pressures put on their environment by human expansion, badgers are increasingly forced to adapt to a less rural life. They can be a nuisance in the garden with their diet of root vegetables, flower bulbs and fruit, and there is no doubt that the holes they dig in lawns whilst searching for worms or grubs are unsightly. However, on the plus side, badgers also eat small animals such as rabbits, rats and mice which are more of a nuisance than the badgers. Insects, many of which are also garden pests and any small animal carcasses that may be lying around would end up being a badger’s lunch. Some badgers are adept enough to unroll hedgehogs to make a meal from. Householders can try to reduce damage in their gardens by providing an alternative food supply for badgers. If you encourage badgers, you will probably not have hedgehogs visiting.
5 different species of badgers
Five common species of badgers include the Eurasian badger (Meles meles), the hog badger (Arctonyx collaris), the stink badger (Genus: Mydaus), the american badger (Taxidea taxus) and the Chinese ferret badger (Melogale moschata).
Where do they live?
Badgers live in burrow complexes called setts. In the evenings, they come out to search for food. They need a regular supply of clean water, so a bowl put out regularly is beneficial, particularly in hot weather when the animals may be a bit stressed. Many badger cubs die when they can’t get water or enough wet food.
What food can you feed them with?
A small amount of sloppy dog or cat food is popular, which may be unfortunate for your cats and dogs. Badgers will eat a wide range of foods that don’t occur naturally in their habitat like peanuts, Brazil nuts, Sugar Puffs, peanut butter sandwiches as well as more conventional foods such as apples, pears, plums and seedless grapes. Watching badgers foraging for nuts scattered on the lawn is entertaining for us, but as wild animals, they can become dependent on regular handouts. It is best not to feed them year round, only when natural food is scarce, which is mostly in spring and winter or at random times, just so they don’t come to expect food at your house.
When feeding a badger
Unless the badger is looking a bit poorly and in need of a boost, a handful of peanuts and another handful of fruit per badger is sufficient for their needs. When feeding badgers, you are trying to substitute for foods they would eat naturally, not Sugar Puffs, but like worms, which are high in protein and also moisture. A dog food bowl made of heavy metal is the best container for badger feeding. Badgers and foxes, to a certain extent, are in competition for the same food – certainly for the dog or cat food you have left out. Usually the badger wins out, unless it is outnumbered by foxes. If you are feeding both, it is best to have a variety of sized lumps and consistencies. Foxes prefer take away whilst the badger likes to eat food where he finds it.
Different types of badgers
There are eleven species of badgers are native to North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Most have a similar diet – small animals, birds and reptiles, some vegetable matter with local variations – notably the Honey Badger (common from Africa to India), which has a particularly adventurous diet of wild honey, porcupines and venomous snakes, such as puff adders, and has an amazing resistance to snake venom. They are even able to climb trees chasing honey. Badgers have been known to get drunk after eating fermented fruit.
Badgers can be fierce and with their strength, compact shape and sharp claws are too formidable a foe for most other animals to tackle – even bears and wolves, although in North America they are sometimes food for coyotes. Sometimes the coyotes are food for the badgers and they have been seen hunting together cooperatively, too. Badgers have quite a turn of speed in short bursts (25-30kph).