Want to learn some badger facts for kids? Then this article is for you.
Badgers are small mammals in the family Mustelidae, which also includes the otters, polecats, weasels and wolverines. There are 11 species of badgers around the world. A male badger is called a boar. A female is called a sow. A young badger is called a cub.
Physical Description of Badgers
Badgers are short, with wide bodies and short legs for digging. They have long weasel-like heads with small ears. Their tails vary in size depending on the species. Most have black faces with distinctive white markings, grey bodies which may be mixed with brown, red, black or even yellow. They have dark legs with light colored underbellies.
One of the most interesting badger facts for kids is that badgers can be found all around the world. They are in North America, Ireland, Great Britain and most of Europe. There are species in Japan, China, Indonesia and Malaysia. The honey badger is found in sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabian Desert, Turkmenistan, and India.
Found from high alpine meadows to sea level, badgers favor dry, open grasslands, fields, and pastures.
Badger Facts for Kids about Habits
Badgers are nocturnal, which means they sleep during the day and are active at night. They tend to be inactive during the winter months. While not true hibernators, they spend most of the winter in cycles of torpor, a state of motor and mental inactivity.
Badger habits vary by species but there are some things they have in common. They all live in underground burrows called setts. Setts can be very extensive. While some species prefer to be solitary, others live in clans called cetes. Cetes usually contain 2-15 badgers.
Badgers are territorial animals. The territories can vary in size depending on the availability of food, but are usually 3-4 square miles (8-10 square km). Badgers can have multiple setts within their territory but there is usually one main sett. The main sett can be hundreds of years old and have hundreds of entrances.
Diet: What Do Badgers Eat?
The diet of the badger depends on the species.
Here's one of the fun badger facts for kids. American badgers are fossorial carnivores, that is, they find most of their food underground, by digging. They can quickly tunnel after ground-dwelling rodents.
Eurasian badgers have a varied diet. They primarily eat earthworms, insects, grubs, and the eggs and young of ground-nesting birds. They also eat small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds, as well as roots and fruit.
In Britain, they are the main predator of hedgehogs. In some areas they are known to prey on lambs. They are occasional predators of domestic chickens, and are able to break into enclosures that a fox cannot. In southern Spain, badgers feed largely on rabbits.
The honey badger of Africa consumes honey, porcupines, and even venomous snakes (such as the puff adder). They will climb trees to reach bee nests for their honey.
Interesting Badger Facts for Kids about Offspring
Female badgers can mate as young as 4 months but most mate after their first year. Males do not mate until their second year.
Badger mating season occurs in summer or early fall. However, implantation of the embryo does not occur until between December and February. That means the female is technically pregnant for 7 months but the gestation is only 6 weeks.
Before giving birth, the pregnant female will prepare a grass-lined den. Badgers give birth in their sett between January and March. They typically have between one and five cubs. They are born blind and with only a thin coat of fur.
Females care for their cubs alone. Cubs remain with their mother in the sett until they are about eight weeks old. They learn to hunt for themselves by the time they are 4 months old. Most badgers are on their own at about 6 months old. This will be one of the favorite badger facts for kids to learn about.
Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
Phylum: Chrodata (possess a basic ‘backbone')
Class: Mammalia (mammals)
Order: Carnivora (meat-eaters)
Family: Mustelidae (weasel family)
Subfamily: Melinae (badgers)
Genus: Meles (Classic Latin meaning ‘badger')
Species: There are 11 species of badger, grouped into 3 types, the Melinae (Eurasian badgers), Mellivorinae (Honey badger) and Taxideinae (American badger).
Badger have lived in the British Isles for at least 250,000 years. However, some scientists believe they may have been around for as long as 400,000 years.
Young badgers are the most vulnerable to predators. The badger’s most common predators include bobcats, golden eagles, cougars and coyotes.
Wild badgers can live between 4-10 years on average. Some are known to have lived up to 14 years. In captivity, they have lived up to 26 years.
25 Unusual Badger Facts for Kids
- Badgers are incredibly clean and will not defecate in their sett – they have special latrines (communal toilets) comprising of shallow pits placed away from the setts on the edge of their territory. They will not bring food into the sett either.
- A badger may spend much of the winter in cycles of torpor that last around 29 hours.
- Badgers can be fierce animals and will protect themselves and their young at all costs, are capable of fighting off dog-packs and fighting off much larger animals, such as wolves and bears.
- In North America, coyotes sometimes eat badgers and vice versa, but the majority of their interactions seem to be mutual or neutral. American badgers and coyotes have been seen hunting together in a cooperative fashion.
- The biggest threats to badgers are cars – more than 50,000 badgers are killed by cars every year.
- According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), most badgers are not endangered or threatened.
- Badgers can run up to 30 kilometers (19 miles) per hour for short periods of time. They are also good at climbing, and they can swim too.
- A commonly held ideas is that the word badger comes from the older word “badgeard,” as in something which has a badge on it, in this case, a white one on the forehead. Another theory is that badger is said to derive from the French ‘bêcheur’ which means ‘digger’.
- Although rarely eaten today in the United States or the United Kingdom, badgers were once a primary meat source for the diets of Native Americans and white colonists. Badgers were also eaten in Britain during World War II and the 1950s. In Russia, the consumption of badger meat is still widespread.
- In Europe, badgers were traditionally used to predict the length of winter.
- The badger is the state animal of the US state of Wisconsin.
- Badgers have been known to become intoxicated with alcohol after eating rotting fruit.
- The dachshund was bred to hunt badgers. Dachshund in German means “badger hound.”
- Badgers have been trapped commercially for their pelts, which have been used for centuries to make shaving brushes, a purpose to which it is particularly suited owing to its high water retention.
- When attacking a bee hive, honey badgers will release a fume that spreads throughout the hive.
- Badgers don’t go to the bathroom in their sett. Instead, they use special communal latrines on the edge of their domain.
- Badgers have featured in many books, such as Brian Jacques' Redwall series, “Tommy Brock” in Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Mr. Tod, “Bill Badger” in Mary Tourtel's Rupert Bear, “Mr. Badger” in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows and “Trufflehunter” in C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia.
- The word for a badger in Welsh, “mochyn daear,” is much more interesting, as it quite literally translates to “earth pig!”
- Honey badgers are one of the only non-primate animal to use tools. For example, in South Africa the honey badger has been known to carry and prop up various tools, sticks, rocks, and even chunks of mud up against the edge of his enclosure to escape.
- Honey badgers are also called ratels because of the rattling sound they make when they are being attacked.
- Badgers do not have great eyesight. Most of their communication is accomplished through strong hearing and scent detection processes. Adult badgers also bark to warn other badgers and their sensitive claws make them aware.
- It is not a good idea to keep a badger as a pet. It is not possible to tame a badger or care for them.
- The European badger can eat several hundred earthworms every night.
- The American badger’s jaw sets into the skull in a unique notch that locks it to the upper mandible and makes it impossible to be dislocated.
- Badgers comfort their young during thunderstorms. It was observed in one sett, after a clap of thunder, a 6-month-old cub put his paws over his ears. Seeing his distress, other badgers sat around the cub to comfort him.
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