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Population density and scent marking by badgers



Mammalian Biology, Volume 67,Number 5, 1 September 2002, pp. 286-293(8) - Urban & Fischer


Hutchings M.R.; Service K.M.; Harris S.


Scent marking is an important form of communication in badgers. The majority of studies describing faecal and urine scent marking behaviour of badgers have been undertaken in areas of high population density and have concentrated on the use of latrines, where large quantities of faeces and urine accumulate in highly localized areas. However, recent studies suggest that at low population densities, badgers distribute their faecal and urine scent marks in a more dispersed pattern. Here we compare the scent marking behaviour of badgers across a range of population densities in Britain. Badgers placed greater proportions of faeces and urine at latrines with increasing population density, a change consistent with a shift from hinterland to boundary marking. We propose that previous descriptions of badger scent marking behaviour in Britain represent points along a continuum. The implications of the correlations between badger population density and scent marking are discussed in relation to the potential for transmission of bovine tuberculosis from badger excreta to cattle.


Badgers; scent marking; population density

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