European badger

Rare and timid

The badger is the largest land-based predator in the Netherlands. It is part of the mustelid family, along with the otter, weasel, stoat, polecat, mink, pine marten, and beech marten. Badgers have large, broad heads on powerfully built, stocky bodies.

They have short legs and short, broad, bushy tails. They have black-and-white fur on their back and flanks, with a yellow-white undercoat. Their heads are white with two broad black stripes. The badger has strong toes with long, curved claws that make excellent digging tools. They live in a variety of habitats, but prefer small fields and grasslands with scattered bushes, hedges, and hedgerows.

Badgers need sufficient ground cover, minimal disruption, a large food supply, and ground that is easy to dig in. Badgers are nocturnal animals and only leave their dens (or setts) at dusk. This is when they explore the area and groom their coats. The badgers then go in search for food, either alone or in group, roaming up to four kilometres from their setts.

In the Netherlands, badgers live in families of three or four animals, while badgers in other countries can live in groups of up to twenty. Badgers do not hibernate, but they are far less active during colder months and may spend days below ground in their setts.

Badgers are omnivores. They are poor hunters and eat whatever they can find. Their diet consists largely of earthworms, which they find in meadows and open areas at night. They also eat berries, fallen fruits, nuts, acorns, tubers, maize, corn, mushrooms, rodents, snails, beetles, and other arthropods.

Badgers are not monogamous, but males and females tend to stay together their entire lives. Mating season is in early spring, but can sometimes extend to the summer months as well. The cubs are born in February or March. The actual gestation period is just seven weeks but like the pine marten badgers have delayed implantation whereby the embryo enters a kind of rest period during winter. A litter can consist of two to four cubs, but usually three.

Head-body length:65-80 cm (tail: 12-19 cm)
Weight:6.6 - 16.7 kg
The male is slightly heavier and larger than the female.
Mating season:February-May and July-September
Gestation period:3 to 10 months (delayed implantation)
Number of young:2 – 4
Name of mature male:boar
Name of mature female:sow
Name of young:cubs