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Small Mammals

Badgers are generally too slow moving to be adept at hunting other animals; but they will eat dead animals and, sometimes, hedgehogs.

From time-to-time badgers will dig up the nests of rabbits, mice, rats and voles (as well as amphibians and small mammals and eat the young animals inside. Normally, adult rabbits and rats are far too quick or canny for a badger to be able to catch, but the young are often left static in a nest.

Whilst some people complain about minor damages done by badgers (like rolling in fields, or garden damage), they may actually be secretly beneficial by helping to maintain a lower population of vermin species - like rabbits, rats and mice, which can cause even more damage.

Some badgers also eat hedgehogs. Some individual badgers, have learnt the skill of using their long claws and powerful feet to open up a hedgehog - even if it has rolled itself into a tight prickly ball. Importantly, this is not something every badger either will or can do, so some hedgehogs may be safe whereas others will be "at risk". If you ever come across a hedgehog "skin" - in other words, the skin, prickles, head and feet but no innards - it is likely that your badgers have learnt the trick.

Note though that badgers will also eat carrion (dead meat) - just because a badger is seen eating a hedgehog, it doesn't mean that it has actually killed it. After all, the badger may have just come across a dead hedgehog that it decides to eat (for example, dead after not coming out of hibernation or having been one of the very many run over on the roads).

Do badgers eat family pets?

Cases of badgers killing active, healthy family pet cats and dogs are exceptionally rare. Most healthy cats and dogs know to stay well away from badgers; and most can get away quite easily. The overwhelming numbers of reports of badgers seen eating pets, is that the badger has come across an animal which is immobile because it is already dead or dying (as a result of predation by dogs or foxes or due to a road traffic accident); and is using the poor animal as a free meal. This is only what your cat or dog would do if it were living in the wild. As large animals, badgers will often take food away from cats, small dogs and foxes; so badgers are often blamed for killing something; when all they did was to steal a meal from a smaller animal.

If you keep small pets in a hutch or a pen, it needs to be strong enough to keep out ALL predators (cats, dogs, foxes and badgers). We strongly recommend checking the strength and the security of all animals pens, to make sure your pets are safe from predators or all kinds. This advice applies to all common pet species, such as cats, dogs, chickens, ducks, guinea fowl, caged birds, guinea pigs and rabbits. Low strength wire netting may be able to keep small animals in their cage or run; but it will not stop a predator. If you keep pets outside at night, you may wish to maintain their security by using heavy-duty wire mesh or weld-mesh.