The Badger Site
The Eurasian Badger
Meles meles

The Eurasian (or European) badger is distributed widely throughout Europe and Asia, ranging from the British Isles in the West to Japan in the East.

The badger is about 85-90cm long from head to tail. Its tail is about 15-16cm long. Badgers can weigh from 8-16kg with an average weight of around 11kg. The weight of a badger can vary depending on the season and geographical location.

The European Badger's face is white with a distinctive black stripe running up each side from the nose to the ear. Its body is grey or brownish, with black fur on the legs. Claws are found on the front paws, adapting the animal for digging.

Badgers are nocturnal, and are rarely seen during the day. During the day, or if it is hot, the badgers will rest in a network of tunnels called the sett. Badgers will also stay in setts for long periods during the winter, utilising the stores of fat in their bodies. Badgers principally eat earthworms. If these are scarce, badgers may also eat insects, small mammals, fruit, nuts and roots.

There are about 250,000-300,000 badgers in the wild in Britain. They live in social groups, or clans, consisting of up to a dozen animals and a dominant male and female who reproduce. Cubs are born around February in litters of up to 5 cubs. Badgers may live to up to 14 years but few reach that age, typically reaching 8 or 9 years. Many badgers are killed by road traffic or activities such as hunting and baiting.

There is concern in the UK over transmission of Bovine Tuberculosis and the role badgers might play in the transmission of the disease. Licensed badger culling is a controversial issue and more information can be found from the links page.

Gareth Griffiths - 2004