FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
We (www.badgerland.co.uk) are a web-site aimed at helping the badger in the UK. We provide information away (for free) about the badger and how to help out.
We also do our best to answer questions about the badger (use the Ask an Expert option).
We also support various Badger Groups (and other charities) in the UK to help them gain members and funds; and to help their badgers.
All this work is funded by us as we love badgers. To help defray our expenses, we hope some of you will visit our Badgerland Shop. Here we link to Amazon in the UK. Amazon give us a small commission on many of the items you buy, and we pass a proportion of this commission on to a UK-based badger charity.
What do badgers smell like?
Didn't Humphrey Bogart remark in some film about those "darned stinking badgers"?
Depending on your point of view badgers either have:
However, badgers do not usually smell as strongly as foxes. Foxes are very pungent indeed - sometimes this is what tells an observer that a fox is holed up in a badger sett.
I think badgers might be in my garden, how do I check?
Check to see if there are any well-worn paths with badger foot-prints on them. The prints are easiest to see in muddy patches.
If you suspect a badger is following a route through your garden, try placing some sticks in the ground with double-sided sticky tape. Hopefully as the animal brushes past it the tape will collect some hairs - allowing you to see what the animal is. Long rough hairs with a black tip are probably badgers.
Also look for other evidence - such as badger "poo" or evidence of digging on lawns etc. A badger will dig a small round or oval "snuffle" hole to get at a worm.
Do badgers like cat-food or dog-food best?
Whilst badgers are classed as carnivores, they actually eat a fair amount of plant material (bulbs, tubers, funghi, nuts, grains, etc).
The most popular cat-food brands include at least some meat (a cat will not thrive for long unless it has meat or some of the key components present in meat). Any-one who just decides to make up their own version of vegetarian cat-food is mistreating it! Even if you buy so-called vegan cat-food, this is not a guarantee of perfect health for your cat.
Dog-food generally does include meat, although a dog can exist on a meat-free diet with carefully controlled monitoring.
Badgers will generally eat either cat-food or dog-food - try a badger with some on an old metal tray to see what happens. If it has had it before, it might well scoff it up with delight. Otherwise, it may be nervous of new foods; so stick with it for a few days to see if the badger wants to give it a try.
Do badgers have fleas and lice and things?
Yes they can do (generally). Their thick fur can be home for all manner of creepy-crawlies (ticks, fleas and lice).
These are not a problem if a badger is coming to your garden (as the creepy crawlies like to stay on the warm badger rather than your cold stone or concrete patio).
However, having wild badgers in the house is generally a very bad idea, due to the risk of any fleas or lice getting on to your carpet and infecting your house. Also, allowing wild badgers in the house may be a breach of the badger protection legislation. Also, too, if the badger should start to "musk" on your furnishings, you may have a heck of a job getting rid of the smell.
Does any-one do a "teachers-pack" to explain about badgers to a class?
Yes - we do - click here for details.
Can I get TB from a badger?
In normal circumstances, the chances are vanishingly small. Generally it is accepted that the only badgers with TB live in the South-West of England; and only a proportion of those are infected.
Also, TB is basically a respiratory disease, so the most likely possible infection route is breathing in air or particles breathed or coughed out by an infected badger.
Can I get badgers to hang around in my garden longer?
If badgers either come rushing through your garden or wolf-down any food you put out for them, you need to be a bit clever.
Firstly, badgers have a very good sense of smell, you can sniff out food from a good distance away. If you put all the food in one place, the badger finds it, scoffs the lot and leaves quickly. However, if you put food in smaller amounts in more locations they will have to hang around longer to get their nosh.
Secondly, if you make it a bit more troublesome for the badgers to eat the food. For example, if you leave out unsalted peanuts or brazil nuts, scatter them across the garden or mix them into a small tub of soil or sand - this will make it more difficult for the badger to get the food - meaning you have longer to watch them.
Also, remember that badgers are easily startled, so avoid rushing about (even inside the house) or doing things like switching lights on and off and so on.
Try leaving a low-wattage outside light on. Over the space of a few nights, gradually increase the brightness as the badgers become more used to the light.
Where's the best place to see a badger?
Living a long, happy fulfilled life in the wild (an obvious point, but we thought we have better make it!).
Remember too that charities are now experimenting with building "new" badger setts for badgers to live in. These are sometimes equipped with observation equipment (for example special viewing windows or night-time cameras). Potentially, you may be able to see badgers "live" on the tellie or on your computer (see news stories from 18th August 2000 and 11th September 2000).
Are there any badgers in "zoos"?
We do not like the term "zoos". To us at Badgerland, a Zoo implies a place where any animal lives with no chance of ever returning to the wild. In other words, old-fashioned zoos are too often nothing more than animal prisons.
That said, many zoos nowadays take animal welfare much more seriously than they used to and sometimes support welfare and habitat programmes outside the confines of their own concrete walls.
In June 2000, we searched through the web sites of all the UK zoos, but couldn't find any that listed badgers as exhibits. That said, some may have badgers - if any zoos have, please let us know; and we'll publish your details.
A badger welfare charity in Somerset looks after badgers for the express purpose of releasing them back to the wild. It is called Secret World and is run by Pauline Kidner. This is not a "zoo". Another location which normally has badgers is the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig in the Scottish Highlands.
I want to make my land more friendly for badgers, how do I start?
Contact your local Badger Group. They might be able to arrange to survey your land to see what can be done.
Also, if there are no badgers in the area, they still might be able to help you make it more attractive to other wildlife species as well.
I'd love to see badgers at night, any ideas?
Actually - depending on the time of year - badgers often come out of the sett just before dusk - so if you arrive early and settle down; you might be able to see them during the day or at dusk.
For viewing badgers at night, your eyes might well adjust so you can just see what is going on (but shield your eyes from any lights for a good 20 minutes). This means being in place so you don't have to look at any street lights, headlights, torches, etc; and waiting patiently. Otherwise:
Do Badgerland own any badgers?
No - badgers are wild animals, so we wouldn't want to "own" any.
Also, we haven't enough suitable land for badgers, but there are badgers near us, if you know where to look!
What are these things known as badger gates?
A badger may use a well-worn path across farmland - this path may have been in use for decades. However, as field boundaries change, new fences and walls are put up and taken down, but the badger often still wants to use exactly the same path he has always done.
Sometimes the reason a fence goes up is to exclude rabbits from areas of farmland - a family of rabbits can breed very quickly and wreck a crop before the farmer has had much of a chance to control their numbers.
However, just using a simple fence would also block the movements of badgers. Also too, badgers are very strong determined animals - they would soon manage to dig up a normal type of fence leaving a hole big enough for rabbits to get through too.
The solution is to leave a short hole in the base of the fence; and seal it with a heavy wooden plank pivoted at the top (a bit like a primitive garage door). The rabbit isn't strong or heavy enough to push through the plank, so it keeps the rabbits out. The badger is much heavier and stronger, so he just barges through. When he's gone through the plank swings down again stopping the rabbits getting through.
What does badger fur feel like?
In very young cubs, relatively soft and fluffy. However, badger fur soon toughens up, becoming much rougher, stiffer and less fluffy. In an adult badger, the hairs feel rough and somewhat wiry.
Do you have any pictures of badgers that we can colour in?
Look at Colour Me In.
Where can I buy a badger from as a pet?
Errrr ... you can't.
Badgers are a protected species so you would not be allowed one as a pet. In fact, keeping a badger is a criminal offence.
Also, being a wild animal, they would make exceptionally poor pets; and be potentially dangerous to boot. Badgers can be aggressive and have a very strong bite. They are also strong and powerful and can harbour insects.
Is it true that badgers go "mad" for unsalted peanuts?
Yes - badgers have a good sense of smell, so can sniff out all manner of nourishing foods. They do seem to be very pleased with peanuts (and other oily nuts like brazil nuts). However, salted, sugared or chocolate-coated nuts are best avoided.
If you want to put food out for badgers, be careful when handling or placing the food - an unusual smell can alarm a badger. Placing your hand on a well-used badger path outside a sett can make a badger very wary of coming out. If you are going to place food, minimise handling the food with your hands, and don't place it on a pathway close to their sett. Put it where it can be found (such as in a small clearing) just away from the sett or path - this way, you will get a better chance to get a good look at the badgers.
Can badgers swim across rivers?
Yes - badgers are part of the weasel family, and can swim. However, they seem to swim only as an absolute necessity; and not normally for pleasure.
Remember too, that much of the liquid a badger needs to live on comes from the wet worms they eat; so badgers do not need to drink much water (unless their supply of worms runs out - like in the hot dry summer or in freezing winters).
What do badgers sound like?
How far do badgers travel away from their sett?
Sometimes not very far at all (for example in winter, when they may leave just to use their latrines/toilets).
At other times, badgers may travel up to a mile or more from the main sett - depending on their need to get food.
Of course, badgers which are ejected from the sett (for example, by being bullied by the main boar), may travel longer distances to get away from the bullying until they can find somewhere to live in safety. They may be able to live in an adjoining territory or have to go further afield if no other badger clan wants to allow them to join.
Why did people used to hunt badgers?
A badger is a strong powerful animal, that now has no natural predators in the UK.
A badger will fight very fiercely against other badgers (to defend it's territory). It will also fight any other foe in the same aggressive manner (this is why you should never approach an injured badger closely unless you have help from a number of experts).
In a fight between a badger and one or more powerful dogs, it will take a long time, a lot of cruelty and a lot of bloodshed before either the badger or the dog is killed. For people who relish blood-sports, this is all part of the "fun" and the "excitement" (this probably explains why like-minded members of the hunt ride miles and miles across the countryside to watch a fox be torn to pieces by a pack of dogs).
A long-lasting fight prolongs the "entertainment", and it makes for more money to be made by illegal bookies to take bets on whether the badger or the dog will "win". Often though, the badger would succeed in killing the dog, so the badger may be beaten or otherwise injured before the fight, to make sure of the "correct result".
Remember that the people who arrange, organise or attend badger baiting events are committing a criminal offence. As likely as not, those people will also have convictions for violence (against wives, children or each other), so such people and events are best avoided.
My company wants to sponsor a registered charity that helps badgers. Are there any?
Look at Secret World wildlife rescue for more details.
What gift ideas do you have for people who like badgers?
Look at the following:
Can badgers climb trees?
Yes - well ... sort of.
Badgers are strong and have powerful claws. This means that they can scratch bark off trees and eat any grubs that live inside. They can also climb some way up a tree trunk to do this, but they don't climb trees in the same agile way as, say, squirrels.
Are there any academics who do research to help badgers?
Yes look at Research.
Any good badger books I can buy?
Yes - look at Badger Books.
I want to buy some badgers, so I can put them on my land. Where do I start?
Errr ... badgers are a protected species, so can't be bought and sold like pets or livestock.
The best way is to join your local Badger Group to see if they can help you out. They may be willing to advise you how to make your land friendly for badgers; or they may be able to use your land in some other way.
Examples of how you might be able to help might be to provide a rescue centre or to safeguard the habitat for badgers who live on your neighbours land.
Some-body told me badgers can eat hedgehogs and wasps. Is this true?
Badgers have a long hairy coat (which means it is difficult for wasps to sting them effectively). Accordingly, badgers will dig up and eat wasp grubs in their nest. Badgers prefer the worm-like grubs to the flying adult wasps.
Badgers are also exceptionally strong (they need to be for all that digging). They can use their long claws and strong paws to prize open a hedgehog that has rolled itself into a ball, although they don't often do this.
Do all badgers have TB?
No - the overwhelming majority of badgers do not have TB. A small proportion of badgers in the south-west of England have TB, but even then they are still in the minority.
In fact, the word TB is a little ambiguous, as different strains of TB affect different animals. It is argued by some people that one strain of TB can pass between badgers and cattle (though whether it goes from badgers to cattle, or from cattle to badgers or back and forth between the two is not yet known). Despite having extensive funds and scientists, the Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF/DEFRA) have known about this issue for more than 27 years, and have so far failed to establish any definitive link or otherwise.
When the Ministry of Agriculture kill badgers, they follow special precautions to make sure that people handling badgers can not get TB. However, the chance of getting TB from a wild badger is utterly miniscule.
Why don't badgers live throughout the UK?
Badgers like to live underground, and they like to dig into well-drained soil. Also, badgers do like to make life easy for themselves by digging into slopes and embankments rather than under a flat area.
Accordingly, areas which are mainly flat or very wet have very few badgers. There are also few badgers on the very high hills and mountains - it's probably too difficult for a badger clan to live up there (little food and too much snow and ice).
Do badgers kill family pets like cats, dogs and rabbits?
Badgers do not generally kill family pets like cats and dogs. Most cats and dogs will avoid a badger if they see one. Others may stand their ground before realizing that it's better to run away in defeat. Sadly, a very few pets do find themselves in situations where they are cornered and the badger sees them as a threat to its cubs, and they may be attacked and rarely killed.
Importantly, badgers do eat a lot of dead meat (carrion), so may well eat any dead animals they come across. When people have reported badgers "killing" pets, they have normally seen a badger eating an animal that was already dead when the badger found it. Tens of thousands of pet cats are killed on the roads every year, so it's not too surprising that badgers are seen eating these "roadkill" carcasses, and blamed for doing the killing. To be fair to the badger, up to 50,000 badgers are killed on the roads each year too. Traffic is probably a far higher risk to family pets than badgers, foxes, stray dogs, etc.
That said some badgers will kill and eat smaller animals (such as frogs, mice, rats and baby rabbits). If you have a rabbit hutch on your lawn, the rabbit will be at risk if the badger can gain entry. Make absolutely sure your rabbit is LOCKED INSIDE the hutch, that the hutch has good strong wooden walls, floors and a roof, high-strength wire mesh and the badger can't just lift up the hutch and tip the rabbit out.
Contrary to the impressions given by some people, many farmers actually like badgers, because they do their bit to keep the numbers of some vermin down.
I want to see badgers in the wild, where can I get a list of badger setts?
There is not a single list of badger setts, and even if there was, it would never be published. This is because people still hunt badgers illegally; so publishing a list of setts would just mean that more and more badgers would be illegally hunted and tortured.
However, if you join a Badger Group, they may take you on a visit to a sett so you can see badgers in the wild (or in any rescue centre the group manage).
Be aware though that, to protect the badgers, many badger groups may take new members to the sett in a blacked out van, so you don't know where the sett is!
Does any-one do educational trips for schoolchildren?
One of the most famous badger charities is Secret World in Somerset. Whilst Pauline looks after badgers, she also looks after other farm animals and wildlife, so this makes a very good school or family trip.