When was the last time you saw a wild badger? Then again, have you ever seen a badger in the wild? It seems ole Bucky Badger is having a hard time of it these days as their grassland habitat disappears rapidly. This large bold weasel once thrived on the open prairies of the mid-western states.
I spot a badger in these parts only about once ever 2 or 3 years. When I do, getting a better look is a must.
Driving down the dusty gravel river road, my attention was drawn to the dirt flying through the air from a hayfield. Somebody was working pretty hard at digging a hole and I wanted to know who the digger was. I pulled over and watched the growing mound of dirt. I suspected any minute to see a woodchuck peek up over the foot high grass. I was very pleasantly surprised when a very large badger stood up for a look around. He just stood still for a minute or so, looking right at me, his nostrils trying to catch my scent. He must have been satisfied that all was safe and dove back into the hole and sent the dirt flying again.
I had forgotten what it was like to see a badger digging a hole and man, can they ever throw the dirt.
The badger is a master digger who wrote the book on digging. Any excuse to send the dirt flying will do. If he feels he is in any danger he will dig a hole to hide in and do it with blinding speed. In just a few minutes they can be out of sight and underground.
A female may dig a nice big hole to crawl into to have her 3 to 5 babies. This usually happens in April or May. They do most of their digging at night when they are the most active.
Food is the badger's main reason for digging. Maybe they have found the narrow burrow of a ground squirrel or gopher, a tasty meal for a hungry badger. June bugs, mice, voles, snakes and rabbits are also dug up and eaten by badgers.
Badgers are known for their courage and doesn't seem to fear anything. A large one, (up to 25 lbs) can handle itself against a dog three times its own size. The bulky loose skin makes it hard for an attacker to get a good grip.
Because of the badger's brave aggressiveness and strength and the fact that early lead miners once lived underground as well, makes Wisconsin, "the badger state".
Badgers here, may live 4-10 years and they don't hibernate in winter but during the very cold spells they may sleep for days at a time.
Some half-dozen sub-species of the badger can be found throughout most of North America. They were once trapped for their bristly soft fur which was used in shaving brushes.
Although the badger eats lots of pests which the farmer doesn't want around, he has decided that the badger does more harm than good. The large holes in the ground left by a badger have caused many a cow or horse to break a leg. Machinery repair costs too are often due to an untimely badger hole. Often when a badger was spotted by a farmer he was quick to eliminate him.
Hopefully the badger will always be a part of the landscape even though it's prairie home is gone. The courageous badgers are also caring and loving when it comes to their families and will defend them to the end. Any animal that will do that can't be all bad. It is important for us to remember the badger's place in the natural world and give them the space they need to survive.
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