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About how badgers live their lives across the UK
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"I suffer from acute and incurable melophilia ...
a rare and delightful ailmentfrom which I am thankful that I can never be healed ...
The only symptom is a deep affection for badgers."
Phil Drabble

Lifestyle

Badgers live in sociable groups (clans) of up to 2-20 adults (although 6 badgers is more usual). The badgers dig out and live in a maze of underground tunnels and chambers called a sett. Badgers will enlarge tunnels every few metres to form convenient passing places. The main sett is occupied all year round and is a permanent home. Some such badger setts are known to be around 100 years old. Around each main sett in the badgers territory, there are others that are used sporadically throughout the year, often between January and March when the cubs are born.

Badgers like to build their setts into sloping ground in woodlands, especially where the drainage is good and the soil is not too heavy to dig. Sandy soil seems to be well-liked, and heavy clay soils avoided.

Badgers are rarely seen during the day, and forage for food mainly at night. Their favourite foods are earthworms, insects and other creepy crawlies, roots, bulbs and tubers, fruit and berries. They may on occasion catch a young rabbit or even a frog.

They are powerful animals about the size of a spaniel, and the male (called a boar), weighing up to 12 kilos, is slightly larger than the female (called a sow).

Frequently only one female badger (called a sow) in a social group breeds, although occasionally two or more may do so. This explains to some degree why badger populations can be decimated so quickly - if cubs from two or three successive years fail to reach adulthood, the badger clan can be on the brink of extinction. Sadly too, badgers suffer from stress, and this can result in pregnant sows losing their unborn cubs. Activities such as digging out a sett, aggressive dogs in the sett, building works and other obvious nuisances can result in serious stress and badger cubs dying.

Whilst badgers do not hibernate in the winter, they do become slower and less active. This usually starts from November and lasts until the early spring. This is known as a winter "torpor", and is really characterised by having a few sleepy days and lazy nights, as opposed to a recognised hibernation. During this period, badgers will emerge only to use their latrines and get the minimum of food, bedding, scent marking and territorial patrolling.

Badgers are exceptionally clean living animals, and will refresh their bedding materials every day or two. Bedding materials will normally be grass, moss, leaves and so on. This provides a soft mattress to provide insulation from the cold ground, and to reduce draughts in the nesting chamber.

Litters of two or three cubs are usually born in February - although there is some evidence that cubs are born later the further north or the higher up you go in the UK.