American Badger

American Badger

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Suborder
Family
Subfamily
Genus
SPECIES
Taxidea taxus
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
9-15 yrs
TOP SPEED
30 km/h
WEIGHT
7-9 kg
LENGTH
60-75 cm

The American or North American badger is a mammal with low profile, having comparably small and pointed head. The badger is coated with fur, its ears are small and tail is fluffy. American badgers’ body is flat with squabby legs. Back and the flanks can have different colors from reddish to gray while ventral parts are mainly ocher color. Facial features of badgers are distinctive with white colored chin and throat and black spots on face. Another distinctive feature of badgers is the white stripe on its back, covering nose and nape.

Distibution

Badgers are found from mountainous areas to sea coast. Their habitat also includes areas with dry climatic conditions. The badgers are widely distributed around northern Mexico, west and central parts of USA, south-central part and west coast of Canada.

American Badger habitat map

Geography

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Badgers are solitary animals. They lead nocturnal life, meaning that they are most active at nighttime. Meanwhile, in remote areas, far from human settlements, they are often seen at daytime, wandering in search of food. Although not being hibernators, badgers, with approaching of winter, become passive and undergo short (about 29 hours long) periods of torpor. American badgers are topnotch diggers, using their strong front limbs, easily permeating through the soil. Their homes are burrows: holes dug in the ground. These underground holes serve them as dwellings and protection. A usual burrow is located at the depth of 3 meters under the ground, containing a big ‘bedroom’, a sleeping chamber, while the total length of all tunnels is about 10 meters. Each badger has several burrows all around the area of its living. When badgers feel danger, they attack and bite the object abruptly, accompanying it with fizzing and snarling.

Diet and Nutrition

American badger is carnivorous which means that it feeds on other animals. Its usual ration consists of voles, deer mice, wood rats, prairie dogs, gophers, squirrels, moles, marmots, birds and even insects.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
August-September
PREGNANCY DURATION
6 months
BABY CARRYING
1-5 cubs
INDEPENDENT AGE
5-6 months
FEMALE NAME
sow
MALE NAME
boar
BABY NAME
cub, kit

American badger is polygynous, meaning that one male can mate with multiple females. As breeding season comes, both males and females begin to extend their home ranges in search of mates. Home ranges of males cover bigger territory and can overlap with home ranges of neighboring females. Mating lasts from August to September, gestation period - about 1.5 months (6 weeks). Thereafter, 1-5 cubs are born while the average number is 3 at once. Over the following 4-6 weeks eyes of cubs are closed and the female looks after them until they are 2-3 months old, usually leaving them after another 2-3 months. A female badger reaches sexual maturity when it’s 4 months old and mates during its 1st year while a male starts mating no sooner than the autumn of its 2nd year.

Population

Population threats

The major threat for American badger is human. People destroy their habitat, hunt them down and trap the badgers for pelts. American badgers are also poisoned by farmers and hit by cars. In addition, the fur of badgers is used in production of painting and shaving brushes.

Population number

On the whole, the IUCN doesn’t consider American badger to be threatened and classifies this species as Least Concern. The total number of population isn’t currently known. However, there are a few areas with estimated population of American badgers. Population number in the USA is unknown, though in America there are hundreds of thousand individuals of badgers. It’s known that in Canada, for example, there are 13.700-28.900 individuals estimated in Saskatchewan province and 3.000-5.000 – in Manitoba province, making up total Prairie population of approximately 43.900 individuals.

Ecological niche

American badger feeds on small animals such as snakes, rodents, thus controlling their populations. They also eat carrion and insects. Their dens are used by other species as shelter while due to digging, badgers loosen the soil. When hunting, American badger frequently cooperates with coyote, these two hunting simultaneously in the same area. Actually, this unusual collaboration makes the process of hunting way easier. Thus, targeted rodents break out of burrows, attacked by badgers, and fall into the hands of coyotes. In their turn, badgers prey on rodents that flee into the dens. However, it’s a moot point whether this collaboration is really advantageous for badgers.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Males of American badger are called boars while females – sow. Youngsters are called cubs.
  • American badger has keen sense of olfaction and hearing, meanwhile being almost blind.
  • American badger is a hermit. It leads a solitary life, preferring to be alone.
  • In spite of being timid, badgers are brave. When scared, a badger can enter into an unequal battle with multiple times larger animals i.e. coyotes, wolves, dogs and, sometimes, humans.
  • Badgers are persecuted by farmers because of stealing eggs and chickens.
  • Cottontail rabbit, a small mammal, often finds protection in badgers’ dens.

References

1. American Badger Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_badger
2. American Badger on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/41663/0

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