Fact-based scientifically-accurate educational information about Badgers
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Encounters in the wild

This is a short topic which answers the most common questions people ask about badgers:

What is a male badger called?
  • A Boar
What is a female badger called?
  • A sow
What is a young badger called?
  • A cub
What is a family group of badgers called?
  • A clan
What is the collective noun for a number of badgers?
  • A cete
What is a badgers underground home called?
  • A sett
What is the smell that badgers have?
  • Musk
How many toes to badgers have?
  • Five toes on each of their four feet.
Are badgers rodents?
  • No - they are members of the carnivore family, in the class of animals known as Mustelids. This means they are related to weasels, stoats, polecats, ferrets and otters.
Can I keep a badger as a pet?
  • No - it is illegal to keep a badger. Also, as wild animals with big teeth and strong claws and amazing digging abilities; they would make exceptionally poor pets too.
What is the biggest badger ever?
  • The average weight for badgers in the UK is between 7.5 and 9.5 kg for females and 8.5 and 10.5 kg for males. They are heaviest in the late autumn and lightest in the late spring.
  • The heaviest badger found in the UK was a boar and was 27.7 kg (he was from Durham), and another from Rotherham weighed in at 27.3kg (December 1952).
  • The heaviest found overseas was one in Russia in September 1935. Despite having the same nose-to-tail length as a typical British badger, this Russian beast came in at a whopping 34kg. He was described as being as "round as a barrel"!
How fast can a badger run?
  • Up to 25 to 30 km per hour for short distances.
Do badgers live abroad?
  • The "British" badger is more-correctly called the Eurasian Badger, and lives throughout the UK, mainland Europe and Asia. The North American badger lives in the USA and Canada, and other varieties of badgers live in Africa, Asia and South America.
Are all badgers black and white?
  • Most badgers in the UK are black and white (and grey). However, there are a few albino badgers (white or creamy coloured fur with pink eyes); and some "red" badgers. The red/ginger badgers are known as Erythristic badgers; and, apart from a different colour, are just the same is black and white badgers.
Do badgers eat their own cubs?
  • In very rare instances, a new boar badger may kill the young cubs of rival boars; but this is the exception rather than the rule.
Do badgers have rabies?
  • No. There is no rabies in Britain; and the rabies in wild species on the continent is being dealt with. On the continent, it is possible for badgers to get rabies, but they are normally infected by foxes who pose the greatest threat.
Do badgers hibernate?
  • No - but they may have a few days in cold winter days when they don't come out of their setts very much.
Do badgers have fleas, ticks, lice and creepy-crawlies?
  • Sometimes they do, but they groom one another every day to keep the number of pests down; and they change the bedding materials every couple of days so bugs don't live in their beds!
Do badgers attack children?
  • No - We have never heard a single instance of a badger attacking a child.
Can badgers swim?
  • Although most do not like swimming, they can swim in an ungainly manner. Doing something like the "doggie-paddle" badgers can make progress across slow-moving rivers, canals and small lakes or tarns. Mostly, though, they will prefer to walk round.
Can I get TB from a badger?
  • We have never heard of any-one catching TB from a badger. That said, if you wash your hands with good-quality soap and in hot water, you can be sure you won't catch TB or anything else.
How big is a badger cub when it is born?
  • On average 120mm long from the nose to the base of the tail. Their tail may be another 30 to 40mm long. Weights vary from about 75 to 130 grammes. Their eyes are closed, by open after about 5 weeks.
What do badgers eat most of?
  • Their most common food is the earthworm (up to 200 worms per night). They will also eat insect pests, bulbs, roots, tubers, soft fruit and vegetables, funghi, wasps, mice, baby rats and rabbits, frogs, moles, hedgehogs and carrion (dead meat).
Can I feed cows milk to a badger?
  • Dairy products are OK for badgers, but can be toxic for hedgehogs (it harms their digestion).
  • Use plain water in a metal dog-food-type dish or an old metal oven-tray instead so it's safe for all animals.
  • You are doing all animals a good deed if you maintain a supply of clean, fresh water in the hot or dry summer months.
How long to badgers live for?
  • The oldest recorded captive badger lived for 19.5 years, although very, very few live as long as even 12 or 15 years.
  • In the wild, badgers do not live as long because of the high number of road traffic accidents, and other factors. In the wild, about 50% of badgers have died within 12 months of being born. Only about 35% of wild badgers survive until they are 2 years of age, and fewer than 20% live as long as seven years of age.
How good is a badgers eyesight?
  • Badgers are born with their eyes closed; and begin to see at about 5 weeks old. It is believed that their eyesight improves, so they can see things like bold patterns, high-contrast lighting schemes and silhouettes. It is believed that their eyesight is optimised for close-distance night-time vision; as they do appear to squint in bright sunshine or under powerful spotlights.