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About how badgers live their lives across the UK
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"(The badger) moves noisily, nothing quiet or stealthy about him. He ambles on like a miniature tank, snorting and wheezing, bashing his way through any bushes or undergrowth in his path."
Ernest Dudley

Habitat

Geography

Badgers are widespread in Britain but are most common in the south west, rare in East Anglia and only thinly distributed in Scotland.

It is estimated that there are between 40,000 and 50,000 social groups of badgers in Britain, made up of 250,000 to 400,000 adults which produce around 170,000 cubs a year. There is considerable variation in the size of social groups, so these figures can only be estimates. Claims made by some people that the UK countryside is swarming or riddled with millions of badgers are utterly false - this has no basis in fact.

Badger mortality is high, with perhaps half of all badgers dying each year. Road traffic accidents with Motor Vehicles are a major cause of death. It does not matter how long a badger clan has lived near a busy road, but they never seem to develop any road sense; and never seem to see vehicles as a concern until it is too late. The maximum life expectancy of a badger is about 14 years, though very few survive so long in the wild.

Habitat

Deciduous woods, copses and hedgerows are the most usual locations for setts - especially if this is near open cultivated land.

Alders are often associated with badger setts, so look for the patches of these trees. Elders will grow near setts because badgers eat the berries and pass the seeds unharmed through their guts before depositing them in the droppings near their sett. Here the seeds will germinate and eventually become bushes or trees.

  • A well-established Sett is unmistakable. It will normally have anything from 3 to 10 entrances, and a few have been found with more than 50.
  • These entrances and exits are at least 25 cm wide - much larger than rabbit holes.
  • Outside each entrance is a large pile of earth which includes dried plant material such as grass, hay or straw. This is old bedding which has been discarded.
  • You will usually see a latrine close to an entrance too.
  • Look out for signs near the sett that the badgers have been foraging: you may see dead leaves disturbed where they have been rooting.

A badger collects bedding material (such as hay, straw and leaves), rolls it into a bundle and drags it backwards into the sett.