Adult badgers measure 30
inches (76cm) to
35 inches (89cm) in length, including a short furry tail
averaging 5.5 inches (14 cm) . Their bodies are wide and
give a flat
backed appearance. Many adult badgers weigh 12 pounds
(5.4 kg) to 16 pounds (7.3 kg), although weights might increase to over 20 pounds
(9.1 kg) in
the late fall as they store up layers of fat to sustain them
during periods of cold weather and deep snow.
Colors are mostly
a grizzled effect due to long guard hairs that have a black
band ending in a white tip. Their "underfur"
is either a light
tan, or a creamy white. A white stripe from the nose
leads between the eyes and back over the head of the badger,
ending between the shoulders.
Ears are set low along the
sides of the head. Lower legs and feet are black
in color. There are five toes on each foot and four of
the toes on the front feet have exceptionally long claws of up
11/2 inches (3.8 cm) to 1 3/4 inches (4.5 cm ) in length.
Badgers have 34 teeth,
including four sharply pointed canine teeth. All badgers
have a pair of musk producing glands near the anus as well as
two skin glands located on the bellies. Badgers walk on
their toes (digitigrade) with a characteristic rolling gait.
Male American badgers become sexually
mature as yearlings, but 30 percent of females have been found
to breed in their first year, when only 4-5 months old. Badgers mate in August or September. Embryos
of the badger experience an arrest in development that greatly
prolongs gestation. The embryo develops for a few days, then
lie dormant in the uterus, being implanted in January. Of the total gestation period of 250 days,
growth occurs during only 50. Birth is usually in April,
or perhaps as late as June at higher altitudes. Usually 2 to 7 young are born.
Although the female has 8 teats, litter sizes tend to be
small, and a litter size of 3 is common. Females care
for the litter by themselves. The young badgers move out
summer to begin solitary lifestyles.
Badgers are territorial throughout most of the year.
Most territories are about 3 or 4 square miles (4.8 to 6.4
square km). The size
of the territory might vary somewhat due to the availability
of rodents, a preferred food. It seems as if territories
are not defended against other badgers, or territories overlap
regularly in good habitats. Habitats with sandy or
porous soils are preferred. Badgers frequent wooded
areas when soils are suitable for digging. Other than
the dispersal of juveniles, badgers do not seem to emigrate.
Typically walking from place to place, they can trot or bound
along at a gallop when they chose to. They are
mostly nocturnal creatures, but have been known to be active
during daylight in quiet areas.
Badgers have excellent senses of hearing and smell.
Both serve in locating food species, which are usually rodents
in underground dens. Badgers have
been known to plug the exit holes of prey species before the
badger tunnels underground to capture the prey. The long
claws serve to loosen the soil and pass it backwards where the
hind feet kick the soil out behind the digging animal.
This dirt is often kicked backwards 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4
meters) in an almost
continuous arc by a badger digging in earnest. Badgers
close their eyes as they dig underground. They rely upon
smell and hearing to continue digging towards the prey.
Even though Badgers have relatively small territory zones,
a number of dens are used regularly over different parts of
the territory. These underground dens are quite often
elaborate. Most tunnels are 6 to 8 feet 1.8 to 2.4
meters) deep and 20 to
30 feet (6.1 to 9.1 meters) long to the main chamber which is elevated to
discourage flooding. A smaller chamber s also dug
underground to serve as a toilet area, and many dens have
several entrance holes. Dens that have been used
for generations by badgers may have as many as 30 to 40 exits,
and tunnels as deep as 15 feet (4.6 meters). Bedding grass and
leaves are sometimes removed from the den chamber for airing
out by a den entrance, after which it is taken back down into
the chamber for reuse.
Some badgers have demonstrated that they will tolerate a
fox or coyote sharing the same den. In 1871, a lost
Canadian boy shared a den with a badger, which at first tried
to drive him away, and then appeared to adopt him by bringing
Badgers are determined
fighters when they are threatened. They have loose fitting
skin, which prevents them from being held securely by another animal.
Badgers do not
hibernate like bears during winter,
but they do sleep for extended periods of time in northern
states. Especially during extended periods of cold weather and deep snow.
Wintering dens can sometimes be found in woodlands, where the
frost does not penetrate as deeply. They can stay
underground for weeks at a time, but they come out to hunt
occasionally as they do not store food.
species is the most carnivorous of all badgers, digs out
chipmunks, ground hogs, ground squirrels, mice and rabbits; it
will eat carrion and invertebrates and also caches food.
Rattlesnakes are eaten when a available
but the badgers do not eat the rattlesnake head. Carrion
is probably an important winter food when the frozen ground is
difficult or impossible to dig in.
The condition of it's claws
are important to a badger. The species sharpens
their long claws by scratching on trees or posts.
A badger is considered to be
old at 12 years of age.
are easy to spot, due to the long
claw marks left by the front feet.
Stride distance between tracks on an adult male are usually 9
inches to 10 inches (22 cm to 25 cm) apart.