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Fruit

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In the autumn, it becomes very important that badgers eat as much food as they can, as they need to put on weight, to help sustain them through the winter months. They do not hibernate, but the colder weather, means less food, and under-weight adults or small cubs will not survive bad winters.

Accordingly, badgers will tend to eat all manner of free Autumn food - including:

  • berries (like elder berries, strawberries, blackberries and even yew berries)
  • nuts - like acorns, beechnuts, cobs nuts. They will also eat peanuts and brazil nuts (plain, with no salt and no chocolate!)
  • grapes in vineyards and domestic gardens
  • fruits which fall to the ground, such as grapes, apples, pears, cherries, plums and damsons

Badger eating windfall applesWindfall apples are major food sources in the autumn. This is why current (and even abandoned) orchards may be frequented by badgers in the autumn.

The two serious issues here are the consumption of strawberries and grapes - both of which are loved by most badgers. Damage to strawberries may be very upsetting for gardeners who see their much loved crops eaten by the badger. Some commercial strawberry crops are grown on raised tables in greenhouses, so they are probably more resistant to badger damage. Grapes tend to be grown outdoors (or in open access areas); so consumption of the grapes can be one problem and damage to the vines another. As more grapes are grown for wine in the UK, this problem is likely to get worse; so growers need to plan how to fence badgers out of their vineyards well before the grapes become sweet and the crops are near to harvest.

The fruit eaten by badgers will affect their droppings, in terms of colour and texture. Badgers will eat the hazel nuts with the shells too; and broken remnants of the shells will remain in their poo. Likewise purple blackberries and elder berries; and red strawberries/raspberries, will stain their droppings a purple/red colour for a few days.

Where badgers deposit their dung in latrines, this tends to decompose and leave nitrogenous compounds in the soil. Such nitrogen rich soil provides favourable habitat for nettles and Elder bushes. The fruit of these bushes (Elder berries) are a favourite of badgers. The seeds of the Elder berry pass through the badgers system unharmed; and are deposited in their dung (potentially in an area already high in nitrogen rich soil).

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