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Badgers are short-legged
omnivore An omnivore () is an animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, consume organic material, Cellular ...
s mostly in the family
Mustelidae The Mustelidae (; from Latin ''mustela'', weasel) are a family of carnivora, carnivorous mammals, including weasels, badgers, otters, ferrets, martens, minks and wolverines, among others. Mustelids () are a diverse group and form the largest famil ...
(which also includes the
otter Otters are carnivorous mammals in the Rank (zoology), subfamily Lutrinae. The 13 extant otter species are all List of semiaquatic tetrapods, semiaquatic, aquatic animal, aquatic or Marine ecology, marine, with diets based on fish and invertebra ...

otter
s,
polecat Polecat is a common name for mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class (biology), class Mammalia (), and characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in Female# ...
s,
weasel Weasels are mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class (biology), class Mammalia (), and characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in Female#Mammalian fema ...

weasel
s, and
ferret The ferret (''Mustela furo'') is a small, domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to s ...

ferret
s), but also with two species called "badgers" in the related family
Mephitidae Mephitidae is a family of mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class (biology), class Mammalia (), and characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in Female#Mamm ...
(which also includes the
skunk Skunks are North and South American mammals Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around ...

skunk
s). Badgers are a
polyphyletic File:Monophyly, paraphyly, polyphyly.png, 300px, Cladogram of the primates, showing a monophyly (the simians, in yellow), a paraphyly (the prosimians, in cyan, including the red patch), and a polyphyly (the night-active primates, the lorises and th ...

polyphyletic
grouping, and are not a natural taxonomic grouping: badgers are united by their squat bodies, adapted for
fossorial 230px, Cape ground squirrel A fossorial (from Latin ''fossor'', meaning "digger") animal is one adapted to digging which lives primarily, but not solely, underground. Some examples are badgers, naked mole-rats, clams, meerkats, and mole salamande ...
activity. All belong to the
caniform Caniformia is a suborder within the order Carnivora Carnivora is an order of placental mammals that have specialized in primarily eating flesh. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, though some species are omnivorous, such as r ...
suborder of carnivoran mammals. The eleven species of mustelid badgers are grouped in four subfamilies: Melinae (four species, including the European badger), Helictidinae (five species of ferret-badger), Mellivorinae (the honey badger or ratel), and Taxideinae (the American badger); the respective Genus, genera are ''Arctonyx'', ''Meles (genus), Meles'', ''Melogale'', ''Mellivora'' and ''Taxidea''. Badgers include the most Basal (phylogenetics), basal mustelids; the American badger is the most basal of all, followed successively by the ratel and the Melinae; the estimated split dates are about 17.8, 15.5 and 14.8 million years ago, respectively. The two species of Asiatic stink badgers of the genus ''Mydaus'' were formerly included within Melinae (and thus Mustelidae), but more recent genetic evidence indicates these are actually members of the
skunk Skunks are North and South American mammals Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around ...

skunk
family (Mephitidae). Badger mandibular condyles connect to long cavities in their skulls, which gives resistance to jaw dislocation and increases their bite grip strength. This in turn limits jaw movement to hinging open and shut, or sliding from side to side, but it does not hamper the twisting movement possible for the jaws of most mammals. Badgers have rather short, wide bodies, with short legs for digging. They have elongated, weasel-like heads with small ears. Their tails vary in length depending on species; the stink badger has a very short tail, while the ferret-badger's tail can be long, depending on age. They have black faces with distinctive white markings, grey bodies with a light-coloured stripe from head to tail, and dark legs with light-coloured underbellies. They grow to around in length including tail. The European badger is one of the largest; the American badger, the hog badger, and the honey badger are generally a little smaller and lighter. Stink badgers are smaller still, and ferret-badgers smallest of all. They weigh around , while some Eurasian badgers weigh around .


Etymology

The word "badger", originally applied to the European badger (''Meles meles''), comes from earlier ''bageard'' (16th century), presumably referring to the white mark borne like a badge on its forehead. Similarly, a now archaic synonym was ''bauson'' 'badger' (1375), a variant of ''bausond'' 'striped, piebald', from Old French ''bausant'', ''baucent'' 'id.'. The less common name ''brock'' (Old English: ''brocc''), (Scots Language, Scots: ''brock'') is a Celtic languages, Celtic loanword (cf. Goidelic languages, Gaelic ''broc'' and Welsh language, Welsh ''broch'', from Proto-Celtic ''*brokkos'') meaning "grey". The Proto-Germanic term was ''*þahsuz'' (cf. German language, German ''Dachs'', Dutch language, Dutch ''das'', Norwegian language, Norwegian svin''toks''; Early Modern English ''dasse''), probably from the Proto-Indo-European language, PIE Root (linguistics), root ''*tek'-'' "to construct," so the badger would have been named after its digging of setts (tunnels); the Germanic term ''*þahsuz'' became ''taxus'' or ''taxō'', -''ōnis'' in Latin Gloss (annotation), glosses, replacing ''mēlēs'' ("marten" or "badger"), and from these words the common Romance languages, Romance terms for the animal evolved (Italian language, Italian ''tasso'', French language, French ''taisson''—''blaireau'' is now more common—Catalan language, Catalan ''toixó'', Spanish language, Spanish ''tejón'', Portuguese language, Portuguese ''texugo''). A male European badger is a boar, a female is a sow, and a young badger is a cub. However, in North America the young are usually called kits, while the terms male and female are generally used for adults. A collective name suggested for a group of colonial badgers is a cete, but badger colonies are more often called clans. A badger's home is called a sett.


Classification

The following list shows where the various species with the common name of badger are placed in the Mustelidae and Mephitidae classifications. The list is
polyphyletic File:Monophyly, paraphyly, polyphyly.png, 300px, Cladogram of the primates, showing a monophyly (the simians, in yellow), a paraphyly (the prosimians, in cyan, including the red patch), and a polyphyly (the night-active primates, the lorises and th ...

polyphyletic
and the species commonly called badgers do not form a valid clade. * Family
Mustelidae The Mustelidae (; from Latin ''mustela'', weasel) are a family of carnivora, carnivorous mammals, including weasels, badgers, otters, ferrets, martens, minks and wolverines, among others. Mustelids () are a diverse group and form the largest famil ...
** Subfamily Melinae *** Genus ''Arctonyx'' **** Hog badger, ''Arctonyx collaris'' *** Genus ''Meles (genus), Meles'' **** Japanese badger, ''Meles anakuma'' **** Asian badger, ''Meles leucurus'' **** European badger, ''Meles meles'' ** Subfamily Helictidinae *** Genus ''Melogale'' **** Burmese ferret-badger, ''Melogale personata'' **** Javan ferret-badger, ''Melogale orientalis'' **** Chinese ferret-badger, ''Melogale moschata'' **** Bornean ferret-badger, ''Melogale everetti'' **** Vietnam ferret-badger, ''Melogale cucphuongensis'' ** Subfamily Mellivorinae *** Honey badger, ''Mellivora capensis'' ** Subfamily Taxidiinae: *** †''Chamitataxus avitus'' *** †''Pliotaxidea nevadensis'' *** †''Pliotaxidea garberi'' *** American badger, ''Taxidea taxus'' * Family
Mephitidae Mephitidae is a family of mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class (biology), class Mammalia (), and characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in Female#Mamm ...
** Subfamily Mydainae ***Genus ''Mydaus'' ****Indonesian or Sunda stink badger (''teledu''), ''Mydaus javanensis'' ****Palawan stink badger, ''Mydaus marchei''


Distribution

Badgers are found in much of North America, Ireland, Great Britain and most of the rest of Europe as far north as southern Scandinavia. They live as far east as Japan and China. The Javan ferret-badger lives in Indonesia, Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of data deficient and the Bornean ferret-badger lives in Malaysia. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of data deficient. The honey badger is found in most of sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabian Desert, southern Levant, Turkmenistan, Pakistan and India.


Behaviour

File:Badger laying on ground. - DPLA - 0335977b4d1504edc799834081ca4fd5.jpg, left, The badger is both admired and disliked for its digging skills. The behaviour of badgers differs by family, but all shelter underground, living in burrows called setts, which may be very extensive. Some are solitary, moving from home to home, while others are known to form clans called cetes. Group size measures, Cete size is variable from two to 15. Badgers can run or Gait, gallop at for short periods of time. They are Nocturnality, nocturnal. 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.


Diet

The diet of the Eurasian badger consists largely of earthworms (especially ''Lumbricus terrestris''), insects, Larva, 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, which have demonstrably lower populations in areas where badgers are numerous, so much so that hedgehog rescue societies do not release hedgehogs into known badger territories. They are occasional predators of domestic chickens, and are able to break into enclosures that a fox cannot. In southern Spain, badgers feed to a significant degree on rabbits. American badgers are
fossorial 230px, Cape ground squirrel A fossorial (from Latin ''fossor'', meaning "digger") animal is one adapted to digging which lives primarily, but not solely, underground. Some examples are badgers, naked mole-rats, clams, meerkats, and mole salamande ...
carnivores – i.e. they catch a significant proportion of their food underground, by digging. They can tunnel after ground-dwelling rodents at speed. The honey badger of Africa consumes honey, porcupines, and even venomous snakes (such as the Bitis arietans, puff adder); they climb trees to gain access to honey from bees' nests. Badgers have been known to become intoxicated with Ethanol, alcohol after eating rotting fruit.


Relation with humans


Hunting

Hunting badgers for sport has been common in many countries. The Dachshund (German for "badger hound") dog breed was bred for this purpose. Badger-baiting was formerly a popular blood sport. Although badgers are normally quite docile, they fight fiercely when cornered. This led people to capture and box badgers and then wager on whether a dog could succeed in removing the badger from its refuge. In England, opposition from naturalists led to its ban under the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835, Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835 and the Protection of Badgers Act of 1992 made it an offence to kill, injure, or take a badger or to interfere with a sett unless under license from a statutory authority. The Hunting Act 2004, Hunting Act of 2004 further banned fox hunters from blocking setts during their chases. 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. Virtually all commercially available badger hair now comes from mainland China, though, which has farms for the purpose. The Chinese supply three grades of hair to domestic and foreign brush makers. Village cooperatives are also licensed by the national government to hunt and process badgers to avoid their becoming a crop nuisance in rural northern China. The European badger is also used as trim for some traditional Scottish dress, Scottish clothing. The American badger is also used for paintbrushes and as trim for some Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Native American garments.


Culling

Controlling the badger population is prohibited in many European countries since badgers are listed in the Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats, Berne Convention, but they are not otherwise the subject of any international treaty or legislation. Many badgers in Europe were gassed during the 1960s and 1970s to control rabies. Until the 1980s, badger culling in the United Kingdom was undertaken in the form of gassing, allegedly to control the spread of Tuberculosis#Animals, bovine tuberculosis (bTB). Limited culling resumed in 1998 as part of a 10-year randomised trial cull, which was considered by John Krebs and others to show that culling was ineffective. Some groups called for a selective cull, whilst others favoured a programme of vaccination. Wales and Northern Ireland are currently (2013) conducting field trials of a badger vaccination programme. In 2012 the government authorised a limited cull led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. However it was later deferred and a wide range of reasons given. In August 2013 a full culling programme began, whereby it was expected that about 5,000 badgers would be killed over six weeks in West Somerset and Gloucestershire using a mixture of controlled shooting and free shooting (some badgers were to be trapped in cages first). The cull caused many protests, with emotional, economic and scientific reasons being cited. The badger is considered an iconic species of the British countryside and it has been claimed by Shadow Cabinet, shadow ministers that "The government's own figures show it will cost more than it saves...", and Lord Krebs, who led the Randomised Badger Culling Trial in the 1990s, said the two pilots "will not yield any useful information".


Food

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 European colonists. Badgers were also eaten in Britain during World War II and the 1950s. In some areas of Russia, the consumption of badger meat is still widespread. Shish kebabs made from badger, along with dog meat and pork, are a major source of trichinosis outbreaks in the Altai Region of Russia. In Croatia badger meat is rarely eaten, but when it is, it is usually smoked, dried, or served in goulash. In France, badger meat was used in the preparation of several dishes, such as ''Blaireau au sang'', and it was a relatively common ingredient in countryside cuisine. Badger meat was eaten in some parts of Spain until recently.


Pets

Badgers are sometimes kept as pets. Keeping a badger as a pet or offering one for sale is an offence in the United Kingdom under the 1992 Protection of Badgers Act.


In popular culture

In Europe during the medieval period, accounts of badgers in bestiaries described badgers as working together to dig holes under mountains. They were said to lie down at the entrance of the hole holding a stick in their mouths, while other badgers piled dirt on their bellies. Two badgers would then take hold of the stick in the badger's mouth, and drag the animal loaded with dirt away, almost in the fashion of a wagon. The moralizing component of Bestiaries often took precedence over their function as natural history texts, and this description of badgers most likely reflects an allegorical exemplar rather than what everyday people in the Middle Ages might or might not have believed about how badgers behave in the wild. The 19th-century poem "The Badger" by John Clare describes a badger hunt and badger-baiting. The character Frances in Russell Hoban's children's books, beginning with ''Bedtime for Frances'' (1948–1970), is depicted as a badger. Trufflehunter is a heroic badger in the ''The Chronicles of Narnia, Chronicles of Narnia'' book ''Prince Caspian'' (1951) by C. S. Lewis. Badger characters are featured in author Brian Jacques' ''Redwall'' series (1986–2011), most often falling under the title of Badger Lord or Badger Mother. A badger god is featured in ''The Immortals (series), The Immortals'' (1992–1996) by Tamora Pierce and "The Badger" is a comic book hero created by Mike Baron. The badger is the emblem of the Hufflepuff house of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the J. K. Rowling's ''Harry Potter'' book series (1997–2007), it is chosen as such because the badger is an animal that is often underestimated, because it lives quietly until attacked, but which, when provoked, can fight off animals much larger than itself, which resembles the Hufflepuff house in several ways. Many other stories featuring badgers as characters include Kenneth Grahame's children's novel ''The Wind in the Willows'' (1908), Beatrix Potter's ''The Tale of Mr. Tod'' (1912; featuring badger Tommy Brock), the Rupert Bear adventures by Mary Tourtel (appearing since 1920), T. H. White's Arthurian fantasy novels ''The Once and Future King'' (1958, written 1938–41) and ''The Book of Merlyn'' (1977), ''Fantastic Mr. Fox'' (1970) by Roald Dahl, Richard Adams's ''Watership Down'' (1972), Colin Dann's ''The Animals of Farthing Wood (book), The Animals of Farthing Wood'' (1979), and Erin Hunter's ''Warriors (novel series), Warriors'' (appearing since 2003). In the historic novel ''Incident at Hawk's Hill'' (1971) by Allan W. Eckert a badger is one of the main characters. Badgers are also featured in films and animations: a flash video called ''Badgers (animation), Badgers'' shows a cete doing calisthenics. The 1973 Walt Disney Animation Studios, Disney animated film ''Robin Hood (1973 film), Robin Hood'' depicts the character of Friar Tuck as a badger. In the ''Doctor Snuggles'' series, Dennis the handyman was a badger. In Europe, badgers were traditionally used to predict the length of winter. The badger is the state animal of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and Bucky Badger is the mascot of the athletic teams at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The badger is also the official mascot of Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada; The University of Sussex, England; and St Aidan's College at the University of Durham. In 2007, the appearance of honey badgers around the British base at Basra, Iraq, fueled rumours among the locals that British forces deliberately released "man-eating" and "bear-like" badgers to spread panic. These allegations were denied by the British army and the director of Basra's veterinary hospital. On 28 August 2013, the Personal computer, PC video game ''Shelter (video game), Shelter'' was released by developers Might and Delight in which players control a mother badger protecting her cubs. As a sub-series of the Sonic the Hedgehog (series), ''Sonic the Hedgehog'' franchise, List of Sonic the Hedgehog characters#Sticks the Badger, Sticks the Badger is one of the main characters of the Sonic Boom (TV series), ''Sonic Boom'' series.


References


External links


Badgerland – The Definitive On-Line Guide to Badgers in the UK

Durham County Badger Group



Badger Facts

www.ontariobadgers.org – Information about American Badgers





YouTube video of examples of Badger scratching trees
* {{Portal bar, Mammals Badgers, Mammal common names Paraphyletic groups