|Caution - Badgers!
|Get expert help before you deal with an injured badger!
Ideally, find some-one who has been trained to handle a badger.
|Approach every badger with extreme care - even one which is apparently
comatose may move suddenly! If the badger appears unconscious, use a
stout stick and carefully prod the sensitive areas near the eyes
and mouth, to check that it really is unconscious. Stay out of reach of its teeth or claws
and remember that badgers may inflict severe bites! Keep stout stick between you and the badgers
mouth, so it can bite the stick before it can bite you. NEVER pick up a badger by the tail. If the badger
struggles, it will be able to bite or scratch you anyway; and you may end
up dislocating its tail too.
|Caution - Veterinary Advice!
|These notes are provided ONLY as a rough and ready
guide to students who are learning about veterinary practice, wild animals
This information on this page is intended ONLY as an approximate guide to
what may happen in one particular circumstance.
It does not constitute advice for Veterinary Practices.
Badgerland are not qualified in the field of veterinary medicine.
|Reference must always be made to the BSAVA manual of Wildlife Casualty Care
for up-to-date advice.
|Some of the following information has been extracted from:
|Other sources have also been used.
These notes assume than the badger has been involved in an accident
with a Motor Vehicle.
These are the most common emergencies involving badgers, with perhaps as
many as 50,000 badgers being killed each year on the roads in the UK.
What to do in an Emergency?
- Always think SAFETY FIRST.
If you see a badger in a road or rail traffic accident, find a
safe place to stop; and use hazard indicators and a warning triangle
to warn other motorists.
You can't help an injured animal if you get injured too!
- Quickly assess the location of the casualty; and whether it would
be practicable to attempt a rescue.
Avoid rescuing an injured animal from motorways,
fast-moving trunk roads, or electrified (third-rail or
overhead) or high-speed railways. An express train or a speeding car
may travel more than 50 metres in 1 second!
Take account of potential hazards and escape
routes when planning capture, e.g. cliffs, roads, rivers, rivers,
streams, drains, ponds, lakes and reservoirs,
rough terrain etc.
Safe handling of adult badgers requires experience.
Inexperienced people should seek appropriate expert advice and
It is not a failure on your part if you need expert advice.
- Beware of an injured badger.
An injured animal will be frightened, and can be
very dangerous; and an apparently comatose badger can suddenly
return to consciousness and become very aggressive. Make sure small children or infirm adults are in a safe location (such as
car). Try to avoid having too many people approach the badger at once.
You' are better with one or two quiet, calm people than
half-a-dozen noisy helpers.
As well as trying to help the badger, you should also be trying to
handle the badger as little as possible (as handling causes the badger
- Approach the badger quietly and very slowly.
Find a long stout stick (such as a walking stick or a dog grasper) and slowly
approach the badger. If it becomes aggressive, let it attack the
stick before it can attack your legs or hands. Young cubs may be less
aggressive than adults!
- Quickly assess the badger, but do not touch it.
Look at the nature of its injuries (see if you can see any broken
legs, head injuries, new injuries or marks to the body and whether it
may be bleeding), and try and assess its mobility. If the badger
appears unconscious, prod gently with a stick, carefully stimulating
around the sensitive areas of the eyes and mouth, to check that it is
really unconscious before approaching within reach of its teeth.
Be aware that badgers, like many other wild animals, can carry
infectious diseases (such as tuberculosis). If you, or any of your
rescue party, have a suppressed immune-system, stay well clear of the
badger and any body fluids, or airways. Call for expert help if you
- Cover the badger to try calm it down.
Use an an old blanket or an old coat, then cover it again with a
dustbin or a strong box with a heavy weight on it (like an adult
person). If you have a
four-wheel drive vehicle, then think about using a solid spare-wheel
cover instead of a blanket.
- Make a note of the precise location.
Look for any identifying signs, then look for signposts or
mileposts, or distinguishing landscape features, bends, bridges,
tunnels, house names and numbers, street names and so on. If you are
struggling, then tie a bright-coloured piece of cloth to a fence, wall
or roadside tree. Think about using a digital or a film camera to
record the location and the view, so it can be identified later.
This is important as when the animal is re-released, it will need to
be placed at the exact spot where it was found; and find it's way back into
the correct sett with it's own family and any cubs.
- Telephone the RSPCA or the Police.
The Police may need to be involved if the badger is on a busy road
or motorway; and their response centre should have the details of the
local RSPCA rescue people or the nearest Badger Groups
which runs a rescue service.
If it is safe to do so, then try and wait with the injured badger.
This will help the rescuers to find the casualty; and you will be
there to point out where it came from before the accident.
In the not too uncommon event that it limps off before it can be treated,
you will be able to point out where it limped off to. This will help the
rescuers deal with any young or dependent cubs.
- Between January and October?
It is especially important to contact some-one urgently in these
months, as any injured animal may well be looking after badger cubs, which
may remain unfed if an adult badger has been killed. All badger groups
should be able to rescue any orphaned cubs and either foster them or
re-home them for subsequent re-release when they can fend for
- Putting the badger in your vehicle?
This may be tempting if you are absolutely certain you can get the
badger to a vets quickly in a safe manner.
Ideally, you would want to transport the injured animal in a proper
animal rescue cage, although a strong dustbin with a secured
non-airtight lid might do in an emergency. Another option might be to
put a badger in a properly secure boot-space, if you have an agreed
destination for the animal. Avoid putting a badger in an open area
(like on a back seat or a foot well), and be aware that a badger might be
able to bash its way through a conventional parcel shelf if it wanted
- Picking the badger up?
Be aware that the badger may be bleeding (internally or
externally), and it may urinate or defecate at any time; so you need
to have a strong water-proof tarpaulin or plastic sheet under the
Using a couple of stout sticks (or a dog grasper if you have one), try and slide a comatose badger onto a
large plastic sheet, and then gently move the badger by securely
picking up the sheet by all four corners.
If you can't slide the badger using sticks and you don't have a dog
grasper, then you may decide to
take a much higher risk and
pick up the badger with your hands. Generally, we would say to use
thin water-proof gloves (to protect yourself from body fluids). Thick
gloves don't really protect you very much from being bitten or clawed,
and can make an animal much more difficult to handle. With extreme
care, try and pick up the badger by the loose skin at the scruff of the
neck and the skin near the rump (but not the tail). As gently as you
can, position the badger on the plastic sheet, and put it into a
secure place (like a secure boot or a bin as described before). If you
have come into contact with any body fluids, follow strict anti-bacterial methods to
wash your hands as soon as you possibly can. Do the same with the rescue
- Caring for the badger yourself?
If you are a member of a badger group or a recognised badger
expert, this might be a possibility. Otherwise, it is a very bad idea,
as you would not know how to treat it, what to feed it on and,
importantly, how to get it re-habilitated so it can be returned to its
- A Badger Group?
Also be aware that most Badger Groups
are 100% aware of the needs of badgers; and will be well versed in
providing high-quality treatment with proper rehabilitation. One notably
good badger-rescue centre is run by Pauline Kidner in Somerset. Called
the centre has had very many successes over a number of years.
- Non-Expert Rescuers?
Other animal rescue establishments may be very good at re-homing
cats or dogs or ferrets or whatever other animal, but badgers are a
In our view, a small number of amateur animal rescue establishments,
do more harm than good when it comes to badgers.
If you are not using a badger group, try and make sure the animal
rescue centre has good recent knowledge of badgers and their needs and
can provide tangible benefits for the badger. Know-nothing do-gooders
should be avoided at all costs!
Traditionally a dog grasper is a pole with a noose on the end which
can be tightened. This allows the handler to control the animal whilst
maintaining a distance. The noose is slipped over
the animal's head, and pulled to be as tight as a typical dog lead.
long pole then means the animal can be held a "safe" distance
away from the handler, which can make it easier to get the animal into a
transport cage, box or dustbin.
With any form of noose, you need to take great care that the noose does
not become too tight, otherwise the animal will choke. You also need to
make sure that the animal does not cause itself spinal damage by
"spinning" round repeatedly on the end of the pole. To mitigate
risks to the animal, you should try and keep the noose in place for the
minimum amount of time needed in order to achieve a safe capture of the
If you have a dog-grasper, you use it on a badger as follows:
- Manoeuvre a dog-grasper around the neck before any other handling.
- Place the noose just behind the ears to minimise the
chance of its becoming dislodged.
- Offer a stout stick for the badger to bite once the dog grasper is in
place to distract the badger from biting the handler.
- Grasp the loose skin over the rump and lift by this (and the
grasper) into a carrying cage or dustbin, taking care that most of the
badger's weight is supported from the rump not the dog grasper.
The best way to use a dog-grasper is to have been trained in it's use!
So far as a badger is concerned, the rescue process is highly
stressful; and it probably views it as a continuation of the
"attack" by the vehicle which caused it pain and injury.
Extended rescue scenarios can cause so much stress in some animals that it
affects their health permanently or even results in sudden or unforeseen
If it looks like the rescue attempt may be very difficult, consideration
ought to be made to dart the animal with a sedative. This is permitted
only by duly authorised people, who have the correct firearms licence.
However, in the right circumstances it can reduce he amount of stress
suffered by the casualty, with a much reduce likelihood of stress
Darting in itself is a dangerous business; and experts need to consider
the size of needle, volume and viscosity of the fluid
and the amount of power used to project the dart. This needs to be appropriate
to the size of the muscle mass and thickness of the skin. Obviously,
the use of
inappropriate equipment and materials can cause serious damage to the
If you are bitten or scratched
- Clean out the wound with soap/detergent as soon as possible (i.e. in
the car before you take the badger to the vets).
- Apply anti-septic as soon as possible thereafter (i.e. on arrival at
- ALWAYS SEEK PROFESSIONAL DEEP CLEANING OF THE WOUND FROM A HOSPITAL
CASUALTY DEPARTMENT (i.e. as soon as you have left the vets)
Seek professional medical advice for any wound which breaks or
scratches the skin; or any serious bruising injury. Be very clear to
mention to the doctor that the wound was the result of contact with a
badger. He should be made aware of the possibility of infection (either by
viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic); and may well recommend a program
of anti-biotic treatment. This is especially important in cases in
south-west England, where up to 30% of badgers may be infected with TB.
When handling badgers, your own BGC vaccination program should, of
course, be fully up-to-date.
What does the law say?
As regards the Law, killing or injuring a badger in a road traffic
accident is not in itself an offence (unless there was a deliberate intent to injure
Likewise, you are allowed to take all humane steps needed to isolate an
injured badger, call for help, take it to the vets or the animal rescue
However, possessing a badger (dead or alive) is an offence, so you
should not go beyond taking it directly to a vet or an approved animal
rescue centre. Rescuing one, and then trying to keep it as a long-term
"exotic" pet would be an offence.
Badgers have exceptionally strong claws and teeth, and these will be
able to do some serious injuries to a person. Also remember, that the
badger might run away. Check out the story of one badger rescue (look for
the "Less-than-smart thinking" story) that sort
of went wrong in our Funny News Stories