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European Badger Fact File

Meles meles

Weight

8-12kg

(17.5-26.5lbs)

Length

56-90cm

(22-35in)

Lifespan

Wild 14 years

Captive 19 years

Diet

Omnivorous

Seeds, Fruit, Insects, Animals

The European badger is noticeable for the black and white striped face with grey fur across the rest of the body.

Also known as the Eurasian badger these animals are recorded to have one of the strongest bites of any mammal as their jaw cannot dislocate.

Appearance

European badgers are notable for their black and white striped face with the black stripes running across the eyes to the nose. The fur on the underside and legs are colored black with grey fur across the upper body.

This coloration is thought to act as a warning of the danger they present due to their strong jaw.

Records exist of badgers with a ginger-coat or albino variants.

The legs are short but powerful and used to dig their burrows.

At the end of the body is a short tail measuring 12-20cm (4.75-8in) long.

An average European badger will measure between 56 and 90cm (22-35in) long with a weight between 8 and 12kg (17.5-26.5lbs). In areas where they hibernate their weight increases throughout Autumn.

Diet


European badgers are omnivores. Their diet includes fruits, berries, fungi, nuts, bulbs, tubers, acorns and cereal. A number of invertebrates, eggs, carrion and small animal prey such as hedgehogs or rabbits are also consumed.

These animals are one of the few species which can feed on hedgehogs as their long claws can help them to get past the spines.

European badger

Range

European badgers are as their name suggests found in Europe. Their range also extends in to Western Europe.

Here they can be found throughout the following countries – Albania; Armenia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czechia; Denmark; Egypt (Sinai); Estonia; Finland; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Jordan; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Lebanon; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Moldova; Montenegro; Netherlands; North Macedonia; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russian Federation; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.

Habitat

They make their homes in deciduous woods throughout open clearings and pastureland along with in woodland or scrub.

European badgers may live alongside humans in urban parks.

They dig a burrow known as a sett. This may have up to 10 entrances. It can be inhabited for generations and enlarged by each.

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Reproduction

Mating will take place year round but birthing occurs between January and February. Females can mate with multiple males during the breeding season and this can create litters with multiple fathers.

Females create a nest inside their sett which is lined with grass, leaves or moss.

1-6 young will be born after a 9-12 month gestation period. This may include a period of delayed implantation where the egg is fertilized but not implanted immediately.

The young are suckled for the next 10 weeks.

Sexual maturity is reached between 1 and 2 years old.

Behavior

In the northern parts of their range the European badger will hibernate over winter.

These animals are primarily nocturnal.

European badgers are social creatures sharing their burrows, known as setts with up to six other individuals. Typically a male, known as a boar, is dominant within each sett.

The group maintain their territory and defend it against invasion by other badger clans.

Close to their burrow a group of European badgers will maintain a pit which is used as a toilet by the whole group.

Members of the clan will press their tails to one another and rub scent from their glands on one another so that all members of the group share a common odor.

European badger

Predators and Threats

European badgers are recorded to be declining through agricultural areas as they lose suitable habitat.

In parts of their range they may be hunted for consumption or use in traditional medicines.

There may be some competition with the introduced racoon dog for resources.

Diseases such as rabies and bovine TB have led to large declines in their populations but this threat appears to be decreasing.

They may also be killed by vehicle strikes.

Current IUCN Red List Status – Least Concern

Quick facts

Badgers have one of the strongest jaws of any mammal. This is a result of their inability to dislocate their jaw.

The European badger is the largest land predator in the United Kingdom.

European badgers may also be referred to as the Eurasian badger.

Photo Credits

Top

Byrdyak, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Middle

Trond Sætre Stegarud, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom

Gigghi, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

Ambrose, J., 2015. Wildlife Of The World. 1st ed. London: Dorling Kindersley

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Jackson, T. and Chinery, M., 2005. Animals of Africa & Europe. London: Southwater.

Kranz, A., Abramov, A.V., Herrero, J. & Maran, T. 2016. Meles meles. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T29673A45203002. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T29673A45203002.en. Downloaded on 07 May 2021.

Brno, Z., 2021. Eurasian Badger. [online] Zoo Brno. Available at: <https://www.zoobrno.cz/en/our-animals/animals-kept/mammals/meles-meles> [Accessed 7 May 2021].

Wildlifetrusts.org. 2021. European badger | The Wildlife Trusts. [online] Available at: <https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/mammals/european-badger> [Accessed 7 May 2021].

Matthews, C., 2021. European badger guide: habitat, diet and where to see. [online] Discover Wildlife. Available at: <https://www.discoverwildlife.com/animal-facts/mammals/european-badger-guide-habitat-diet-and-where-to-see/> [Accessed 7 May 2021].

Hoo Farm. 2021. European Badger – Hoo Farm. [online] Available at: <https://www.hoo-zoo.com/european-badger/> [Accessed 7 May 2021].

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