The Badger’s Year

January… Badgers are less active and spend more time underground, due to the cold weather and less food being available. Sows are pregnant and some may give birth. Bedding can be seen being aired outside of the sett entrance.

February… Most pregnant females give birth this month, to between one and three cubs. mating also increases now and the boar badgers range more widely over their own and neighbouring group territories, looking for females to mate with.

April… Spring is in full swing and food supplies are plentiful again. Badger cubs are now exploring the sett entrances and may emerge, tempted by the multitude of new scents and sounds outside. The sow is protective over her cubs and makes sure they stay close to the sett.

May… Now is a good time to start watching badgers. the weather is warmer and badgers are beginning to emerge in daylight. The cubs are three to four months old, and will come above ground to explore around the sett and play with other badgers.

June… By the end of June many cubs are weaned. They are now confident enough to forage with other cubs, other members of the group or by themselves. This month badgers often sleep in day nests above ground.

July… Prolonged dry weather can have a serious impact on badgers. deaths may occur through starvation or increased road traffic accidents. Cubs should be half the weight of their parents and are growing fast.

August… Badgers spend a lot of time digging and extending their setts. The diet throughout the year is mainly earthworms, during this month it includes cereal crops.

September… Late summer and autumn bring additional food sources, including cereals such as wheat, oats and barley, and fruits like blackberries, windfall apples, wild cherries and acorns.

October… Badgers are feasting on fruits and other food to put on fat reserves for the winter. Badgers also prepare their setts by excavating tunnels and chambers. They will bring in fresh bedding material, such as grass and leaves.

November… Watching badgers can get more difficult, as the times when they emerge from their setts becomes more erratic. Although badgers do not hibernate, their activity is reduced as food becomes harder to find.

December… Badgers sleep longer and deeper. The lull in activity coincides with an important phase in the badger’s reproductive cycle. Sows can mate at any time of the year, but it is not until winter that the embryos implant in the womb and start growing, this is known as delayed implantation.

Wild Facts on Badgers

Scientific name… Meles meles (Eurasian Badger)

What other animals are badgers related to? Badgers are part of a group of animals known as mustelids, which include stoats, weasels and otters.

What do badgers eat? The main part of their diet are earthworms, but the also eat beetles, cereals, fruit, vegetables and carrion (dead animals).

How much do badgers weigh? 8-9kg in spring, 10-12kg in autumn. The male is slightly heavier then the female. They will build up fat reserves to help them through the winter when food is scarce.

Why aren’t badgers easy to find? Badgers are shy animals and they are also nocturnal.

Do badgers hibernate? Badgers don’t strictly hibernate, but they are much less active during the winter spending most of their time underground.

Do badgers live together? Groups of related badgers, known as clans, live together.

Where do badgers live? The badger’s home is known as a sett. Which has a large network of underground tunnels and chambers and may have many entrance holes. Badgers prefer to make their setts in woodland, but close to land where there will be a good supply of earthworms.

When are badger cubs born? Most cubs are born mid-February to mid-March. They will stay underground for 8-10 weeks. Once above ground they begin to learn to fend for themselves.

Are badgers protected by law? Badgers have an Act of Parliament solely to themselves, known as The Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

What are the threats to badgers?

Traffic… Traffic is the biggest killer of badgers, approximately 50,000 badgers die on the roads every year.

Persecution… Over 10,000 badgers are cruelly tortured and killed every year. Often this is in the name of “sports” such as badger baiting, where badgers must fight to the death against powerful dogs.

Development… The building of new housing estates and highways, can mean the loss of the badgers home and foraging ground.