Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

American Badger

 


An American Badger, are they considered fearless and vicious as we have portrayed them for years? The answer is they are no less vicious than any other animal when it comes to cubs, food or dens. However, there is another badger species that carries that title with full respect of all species. It’s the Honey Badger, considered the most fearless and vicious of all badger species. The American Badger is a brown fur-covered mammal with short legs and low profile. The head appears pointed and small for the body. They have short ears and a short, furry tail.

Badgers weigh 10 to 20 lbs. The body is flattened, and the legs are short and stocky. The fur on the back and flanks of the animal ranges from grayish to reddish. The ventrum is a tan color. The face of the badger is distinct. The throat and chin are whitish, and the face has black patches. A white dorsal stripe extends back over the head from the nose.

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, Badgers prefer to live in dry, open grasslands, fields, and pastures. Badgers are also known to live in open habitats in eastern Washington, including desert, sagebrush, grassland, meadows, and grassy bald spots on high ridge tops. They can be present in open forest (primarily Ponderosa Pine) with grassy ground cover.

Badgers are carnivorous (meat eaters). They eat a variety of small animals, including pocket gophers, ground squirrels, moles, marmots, prairie dogs, wood rats, kangaroo rats, deer mice, and voles. They also eat insects and birds.

Badgers are solitary animals that are mainly active at night. They 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 as long as 29 hours. (Toper: a state of motor and mental inactivity with a partial suspension of sensibility.)

Badgers are known to be excellent digging machines. Their powerfully built forelimbs allow them to tunnel rapidly through the soil and other substrates. They construct underground burrows for protection and sleeping. A typical badger den may be as far a 9 feet below the surface, contain approximately 32 feet of tunnels and an enlarged sleeping chamber. Badgers use multiple burrows within their home range.

If threatened, they attack explosively with hissing, growling and biting.

Mating occurs in late summer or early autumn. The actual gestation is only 6 weeks. They have litters of 1 to 5 offspring, with an average of 3, born in early spring. Females are able to mate when they are as young as 4 months old, but males do not mate until the autumn of their second year. Most females mate after their first year. Female badgers prepare a grass-lined den before giving birth. Badgers are born blind and helpless with only a thin coat of fur. The eyes of the youngsters open at 4 to 6 weeks old. The young are nursed by their mother until they are 2 to 3 months old. The cubs (young badgers) may emerge from the den as early as 5 to 6 weeks old. Juveniles disperse at 5 to 6 months.

Did you know? 1. Badgers have extremely keen vision, scents of smell and hearing. 2. Badgers have lived to be 26 years old in captivity. 3. American badgers are solitary. 4. European badgers are sociable. 5. Badgers are good at digging burrows. 6. Badgers help to control rodent populations.

 

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