Badgers are the UK's largest land predator and are famed for their black and white stripes and sturdy body. They have strong front paws, used for digging for food and for building their dens, which are knows as setts.
Badgers are crepuscular and nocturnal, emerging around dusk to forage. They are very sociable animals, living in strong hierarchy family groups. Smell is a very important means of communication, as their eyesight is generally poor. They use their sense of smell to identify individuals and mark out territory. In winter they are a lot less active, and do not properly hibernate.
Badgers and their setts are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Historically, badger baiting was once a popular blood sport in the UK whereby badgers were attacked by dogs in a pit until it was outlawed in 1835 and 1911. In the UK, the changes in agricultural practices has put pressures on the more rural populations due to loss of habitat and prey.
Badger populations in some counties are likely to have decreased due to a government-led culling programme which began in 2013. This is part of the current policy to attempt to halt the spread of bovine TB within cattle – although research suggests there is little scientific evidence to support their role as a primary vector of the disease to cattle. Threats also include collisions with road traffic and illegal persecution.
Found throughout the UK, but absent from the Scottish islands, Isle of Man, the Isles of Scilly, and Channel islands. Also found throughout most of Europe as well as parts of Asia.
Found in both deciduous and mixed woodland, with patches of pastureland, clearings and scrub. Have also adapted to life living in suburban and urban areas.
Omnivorous, eating a huge variety of food items, although earthworms seem to make up the majority of their diet. Fruits, berries, eggs, invertebrates, rodents and small mammals (including hedgehogs).
Wildwood inside information
You can see the badgers late in the afternoon when they have been fed, or occasionally at midday on sunny days in the winter. At other times you can see them curled up together asleep in their sett inside.
Badgers are the main predators of hedgehogs in the UK; they are the only animals strong enough to tackle a curled up hedgehog with all its spines.