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 a low profile, having a comparably small and pointed head. The badger is coated with fur, its ears are small and its 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. The facial features of badgers are distinctive with a white-colored chin and throat and black spots on the face. Another distinctive feature of badgers is the white stripe on its back, covering the nose and nape.

No

Nocturnal

Ca

Carnivore

Te

Terrestrial

Al

Altricial

Fo

Fossorial

Bu

Burrowing

Vi

Viviparous

To

Torpor

Pr

Predator

Po

Polygyny

So

Solitary

No

Not a migrant

A

starts with

U.

U.S. States Animals
(collection)

Distribution

Geography

Continents
Biogeographical realms

American badgers are widely distributed around northern Mexico, the west and central parts of the USA, the south-central part, and the west coast of Canada. These animals prefer grasslands and open areas with grasslands, which can include parklands, farms, and treeless areas with friable soil and a supply of rodent prey. They may also be found in forest glades and meadows, marshes, brushy areas, hot deserts, and mountain meadows. In Arizona, they occur in desert scrub and semidesert grasslands. Badgers are occasionally found in open chaparral (with less than 50% plant cover) and riparian zones but they are not usually found in mature chaparral.

American Badger habitat map

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 in the daytime, wandering in search of food. Although not being hibernators, badgers, with the 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.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

American badgers are fossorial carnivores that often dig to pursue prey into their dens, and sometimes plug tunnel entrances with objects. Their 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

The American badger is polygynous, meaning that one male can mate with multiple females. As the 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 and the gestation period is 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 to American badgers 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 the production of painting and shaving brushes.

Population number

On the whole, the IUCN doesn’t consider the 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 an 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 a total Prairie population of approximately 43.900 individuals.

Ecological niche

American badger feeds on small animals such as snakes, and 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, the American badger frequently cooperates with coyotes, these two hunt simultaneously in the same area. Actually, this unusual collaboration makes the process of hunting way easier. Thus, targeted rodents break out of burrows, are 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 the American badger are called boars while females - sow. Youngsters are called cubs.
  • American badger has a 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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