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April 3, 2015 Comments (0) Fauna

The American Badger

The American Badger (Taxidea taxus) is the North American mustelidae cousin of the Eurasian Badger and Honey Badger. Like other Badgers he is recognizable for his low stout body, black and grey fur, and signature black striped head. The American Badger is also a relative of the otter and wolverine.

Badgers are prodigious diggers, active hunters and extremely fierce when confronted.

American Badgers prefer to live in mostly open country ranging from Southern Canada and across most of the western United States, and as far south as Baja California. Badgers can also be found in Alpine meadows up to 12,000 feet and in open forest areas. Badgers are prodigious diggers, active hunters and extremely fierce when confronted.

Badgers spend a lot of their time digging, not only when hunting but also in the construction of burrows. When hunting, Badgers use their strong legs and long claws to dig out burrowing rodents. The Badger is also cunning and will use rocks to block the escape tunnels of their prey. Coyotes have keyed into Badger hunting habits and will wait off to the side in order to catch any rodents that may attempt to flee. Badgers are omnivores and in addition to rodents and vegetables they will indulge in more exotic food such as scorpions, honey combs and rattle snakes. Luckily for the Badger they are immune to the rattle snake’s venom- Mmm spicy!

Badger_ODFW_2When the Badger isn’t digging out his meals he may be found digging a burrow. A Badger’s burrow is called a sett and can be very complicated, spanning hundreds of feet featuring multiple chambers with up to 40 openings. Badger’s keep their setts very tidy and will line them with grass that they change out often to keep clean. In the warmest months of the year Badgers will also maintain secondary burrows which they dig every few days as they as they move about their several square mile territory. After these mounds are left behind other animals such as foxes and skunks will sometimes take up residence in these ready-made burrows. This can be a risky venture though, as they could be evicted by an angry landlord. As the seasons turn colder Badgers will limit their range and begin to confine themselves to their primary sett for the duration of winter. During the coldest months Badgers will enter a period of limited activity called torpor and will rarely venture out in order to conserve energy.

Badgers live a mostly solitary life and don’t take kindly to trespassers in their territory. A Badger will show he means business by stamping his foot, growling and baring his teeth. If the offending animal continues to press on, the Badger will stand his ground and go on the attack, even in the face of a much larger animal such as a Grizzly Bear. Once they get a taste of the Badger’s fury, most animals will leave rather than risk being injured and have to explain how a twenty pound Badger bit the nose of a nearly 1,000 pound Grizzly.

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