(Protected) Pest Of The Week – Badgers

Badgers have a greyish body, dark haired legs and underparts, and a white head with a dark stripe over the eye on both sides. An average adult badger is 69-71cm long and weighs 18kg, making it one of the larger wild animals in Britain today.

Badgers live in large burrow systems called setts. A sett is usually dug in sloping ground in a wood or copse bordering pastureland. Some setts have been used for over 100 years by generations of badgers and may have more than 40 entrances. The underground tunnels may be up to 30m long. Tunnels are on different levels, about 100cm from the surface. At the end of a tunnel is a chamber, used for sleeping or breeding. A badger community normally consists of several adult boars (males) and sows (females) together with one or two litters of cubs – up to 15 animals in total. A community’s territory may be 40 – 50 hectares (1hectare = 2 football pitches) in size.

Badgers may mate in any month between February and October but the fertilised egg does not start developing until December. This is called delayed implantation. The cubs are born about eight weeks after implantation, from mid-January to mid-March. There are usually two or three cubs in a litter and to begin with they are blind and have silky, greyish-white fur. They remain underground until they are 8 weeks old and weaning starts at 12 weeks of age. Some cubs stay with the family group and others leave to find new territories. Females are ready to breed at 12-15 months, males take longer, usually maturing by the age of two.

Badgers are omnivores (both meat and plant eater); earthworms are the main food source along with beetles, slugs, wasp grubs, frogs, young rabbits and mice, fruit and bluebell bulbs.

Habits & Behaviour
Badgers are nocturnal and emerge from their setts soon after dusk, sniffing the air for danger before going about their activities. They are very clean animals and always deposit their droppings in shallow pits some distance from the sett. Near the sett there is usually a “scratching tree”, engraved with sets of parallel claw marks. Sharpening claws keep them in good condition for digging. During the autumn, badgers eat as much as they can, laying down a lot of fat under the skin, increasing their weight by up to 6%. This helps them to survive the winter. They do not hibernate but spend the coldest weather sleeping in their setts, living mainly off their fat.

Protection of badgers act 1992
Scotland’s badgers are the most protected badgers in the UK. Through changes to the law in 2004 & 2011 a much wider culpability was introduced. The law is quite clear. It is an offence intentionally or recklessly to:-

  • kill, injure, take, possess or cruelly ill-treat a badger or to attempt to do so
  • interfere with a sett by damaging or destroying it
  • obstruct access to, or any entrance of, a badger sett
  • disturb a badger whilst it is occupying a sett
  • cause a dog to enter a sett
  • sell a live badger or offer one for sale or possess a live badger
  • be in possession or control of a dead badger or anything derived from a dead badger
    or to attempt to do any of these things

If you suspect you have a badger infestation in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee or Perth, call GRAHAM pest control today and we could help.