American Badger Profile
Badgers are found primarily in the Great Plains region of North America. Badgers occur north through the
central western Canadian provinces, in appropriate habitat throughout the western United States, and south
throughout the mountainous areas of Mexico. They have expanded their range since the turn of the 20th
century and are now found as far east as Ontario, Canada.
Badgers prefer to live in dry, open grasslands, fields, and pastures. They are found from high alpine meadows
to sea level
Badgers produce ecological benefits in controlling rodent populations and in providing burrow refuge habitat
for burrowing owls, which also help to control small mammal populations in prairie and agricultural lands.
||20 - 35 inches
||Back and flanks are
grayish to reddish.
White dorsal stripe
from head to nose
||Sow (F): 1 year
Boar (M): 2 years
||Bobcats, golden eagles,
cougars, wolves, and bears
The American Badger is a mammal with a low profile, having a comparably small and pointed head. The badger
is coated with fur, its ears are small and its tail is fluffy. American badgers’ body is flat with squabby legs. Back
and the flanks can have different colors from reddish to gray while ventral parts are mainly ocher color.
The facial features of badgers are distinctive with a white-colored chin and throat and black spots on the face.
Another distinctive feature of badgers is the white stripe on its back, covering the nose and nape. In northern
populations, this stripe ends near the shoulders. In southern populations, however, it continues over the
back to the rump.
Males are significantly larger than females and animals from northern populations are larger than those from
Badgers are excellent digging machines. Their powerfully built forelimbs allow them to tunnel rapidly through
the soil, and apparently through other harder substances as well. There are anecdotal accounts of badgers
emerging from holes they have excavated through blacktopped pavement and 2-inch thick concrete.
Dens and burrows are a very important part of a badger's life - a badger's den is called a sett.
A badger usually has lots of different dens and burrows. It uses them for sleeping, hunting, storing food, and
giving birth. A badger may change dens every day, except for when it has babies. Badger dens have one
entrance with a pile of dirt next to it. When a badger is threatened, it may back into a burrow and bare its teeth
and claws. It may then plug up the burrow's entrance.
Their burrows are constructed mainly in the pursuit of prey, but they are also used for sleeping. A typical badger
den may be as far as 10 feet below the surface, contain about 10 feet of tunnels, and have an enlarged chamber
Badgers have keen vision, scent, and hearing. They have nerve endings in the fore claws that may make them
especially sensitive to touch in their forepaws, but this has not been investigated. Not much is known about
communication in these normally solitary animals, but it is likely that home ranges are marked with scents that
are used by conspecifics to determine reproductive readiness.
The badger's vocal repertoire consists of at least 16 discrete calls, varying from long, low pitched
growls to short, high-pitched squeaks and bird-like coos. Churrs, purrs, and keckers seem to be
restricted to adults only, while chirps, clucks, coos, squeaks and wails are confined to the badger
cub's repertoire. The remaining calls may be expressed by both adults and cubs.
During the mating season the most frequently heard calls are the male churrs and the female yelps.
American badgers are fossorial carnivores that often dig to pursue prey into their dens, and sometimes plug
tunnel entrances with objects. Their usual ration consists of voles, deer mice, wood rats, prairie dogs, gophers,
squirrels, moles, marmots, birds, and even insects.
Unlike many carnivores that stalk their prey in open country, badgers catch most of their food by digging. They
can tunnel after ground dwelling rodents with amazing speed. They have been known to cache food.
Badgers are solitary animals. Typical population density is about 5 animals per square kilometer. Badgers are
mainly active at night, and tend to be inactive during the winter months.
They are not true hibernators, but spend much of the winter in cycles of torpor that usually last about 29 hours.
During torpor body temperatures fall to about 45° F and the heart beats at about half the normal rate.
They emerge from their dens on warm days in the winter.
The home ranges of both male and female badgers expands during the breeding season, indicating that males
and females travel more extensively to find mates. Males have larger home ranges that are likely to overlap with
the home ranges of several females.
Mating occurs in late summer or early autumn but embryos are arrested early in development. Implantation is
delayed until December or as late as February. After this period embryos implant into the uterine wall and
resume development. So, although a female is technically pregnant for 7 months, gestation is a mere 6 weeks.
Litters of 1 to 5 offspring, with an average of 3, are born in early spring. Females are able to mate when they
are 4 months old, but males do not mate until the autumn of their second year. Most females mate after their
Natural predation on badgers is rare, with young animals being most vulnerable. The primary predators of
badgers are humans who are responsible for habitat destruction, trapping, hunting, automobile fatalities,
and poisoning. Other reported predators of American badgers include golden eagles, bobcats, cougars,
and coyotes. Bears and gray wolves may also take badgers.
Badgers do not make good pets as they are very aggressive and hugely destructive. These animals
are immensely powerful diggers and, as opportunistic foragers, have their sensitive noses in everything.
Anything they cannot reach they dig for. Carpets, furniture, flower beds – all are ravaged. The badger's place is in
the wild, where it plays an important role as a small predator and omnivore.
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