Badgers in Spring!
How much do you know about our favourite stripey mammal? At a time when cubs will be starting to emerge for the first time, we thought we would explore badgers in this week’s blog!
You may not have ever seen a badger in the wild, but they are found in woodlands and open countryside up and down the UK. They spend a lot of their time in ‘setts’, which are large underground networks of tunnels that they call home. Each badger’s territory will have a main sett and several outlying setts, think of it like a house that’s had a lot of extension work done! They have shared toileting areas which are often along the border between territories! Usually found in rural countryside, badgers can survive in urban environments, but this is not as common as other mammals such as foxes. They are omnivores, but up to 80% of their diet is made up from worms! Slimy snacks.
Badgers live in social groups of around 7 individuals and mating occurs year round but is predominantly from February – May. Regardless of when the mating occurs, badgers can delay implantation meaning cubs will not be born until February. This means, after spending a couple of months underground, they can emerge, in mid to late spring when food source is aplenty, and the weather is warming up. This is our favourite time of year too! Young badgers may sometimes leave their family group and join another territory.
Just like us, badgers like to have clean bedding. They will drag out bracken and grass that they have used for a while and replace it with fresh materials. Keeping the sett clean reduces the risk of infestations of lice and fleas and provides a safe environment for the cubs.
Badgers are nocturnal so they are notoriously tricky to see. Our wonderful ambassador, cameraman and naturalist, Simon King, shared his top tips for spotting them during the spring and summer months:
- Arrive at the sett from downwind, at least 2 hours before sunset.
- Position yourself (still downwind) so that your outline doesn’t not stand out. Camouflage yourself against a tree for example.
- Remain completely silent for the duration of your badger watch so as not to spook them.
- Leave as silently as you arrived to minimise disturbance.
- Take a red torch with you to help you find your way and avoid any accidents. Red torch light causes less disruption to wildlife.
Badgers are protected by law and this has helped the population increase since the 1980’s but they are still victims of persecution and are at risk of death caused by close interaction with humans and roads. If you would like to go on a badger watch to spot these beautiful animals, be sure to follow Simon’s top tips! Don’t forget to share any photos with us on The Wildlife Community Forum!