European badger
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Caniformia
Superfamily: Musteloidea
Family: Mustelidae
Subfamily: Melinae


Badger ranges
  • Gold = Honey badger (Mellivora capensis)
  • Red = American badger (Taxidea taxus)
  • Teal = European badger (Meles meles)
  • Dark green = Asian badger (Meles leucurus)
  • Lime green = Japanese badger (Meles anakuma)
  • Blue = Chinese ferret-badger (Melogale moschata)
  • Indigo = Burmese ferret-badger (Melogale personata)
  • Azure = Javan ferret-badger (Melogale orientalis)
  • Purple = Bornean ferret-badger (Melogale everetti)

Badgers are short-legged omnivores in the weasel family, Mustelidae. There are nine species of badger, in three subfamilies (see links in species list below): Melinae (badgers of Europe and Asia), Mellivorinae (the Ratel or honey badger), and Taxideinae (the American badger). The Asiatic stink badgers of the genus Mydaus were formerly included in the Melinae and Mustelidae, but recent genetic evidence[1] indicates that these are actually members of the skunk family, placing them in the taxonomic family Mephitidae.

Badgers include the species in the genera Meles, Arctonyx, Taxidea and Mellivora species. Their lower jaw is articulated to the upper by means of a transverse condyle firmly locked into a long cavity of the cranium, so that dislocation of the jaw is all but impossible. This enables the badger to maintain its hold with the utmost tenacity, but limits its jaw movement to hinging open and shut, or sliding from side to side without the twisting movement possible for the jaws of most mammals.



An American badger adult female, or sow

The word badger originally applied to the European badger (Meles meles). Its derivation is uncertain. It possibly comes from the French word bêcheur (digger)[2] The Oxford English Dictionary states it probably derives from badge + -ard, referring to the white mark borne like a badge on its forehead.[3] It is possibly related to the Romanian viezure ("badger"), a word of uncertain etymology, believed to be inherited from Dacian/Thracian and related to the Albanian vjedhullë ("badger", "thief") and vjeth ("to steal"), and the Slavic jazvrŭ ("hedgehog"; cf. Serbian jazavac "badger").[4][5][not in citation given] The less common name brock (Old English: brocc), (Scots: brock) is a Celtic loanword (cf. Gaelic broc and Welsh broch, from Proto-Celtic *brokko) meaning grey.[3] The Proto-Germanic term was *þahsu- (cf. German Dachs, Dutch das, Norwegian svin-toks; Early Modern English: dasse), probably from the PIE root *tek'- "to construct," so that the badger would have been named after its digging of setts (tunnels).

A male badger is a boar, a female is a sow and a young badger is a cub. A collective name suggested for a group of badgers is a cete,[6] but badger colonies are more often called clans.[citation needed] Badger dens are called setts.


The following list shows where the various species with the common name of badger are placed in the Mustelidae classification. The list is polyphyletic and the species commonly called badgers do not, if the stink badgers are included, form a valid clade.


Badgers are found in much of North America, Ireland, Great Britain[8] and most of Europe as far as southern Scandinavia.[9] They live as far east as Japan and China. The Javan ferret-badger lives in Indonesia,[10] and the Bornean ferret-badger lives in Malaysia. [10] The honey badger is found in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabian Desert, southern Levant, Turkmenistan, and India.[10]


The behavior 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. Clan size is variable from 2 to 15. Badgers can be fierce animals and will protect themselves and their young at all costs. Badgers are capable of fighting off much larger animals such as wolves and bears. Badgers can run or gallop at up to 25–30 kilometres per hour (16–19 mph) for short periods of time.

In North America, coyotes sometimes eat badgers and vice versa, but the majority of their interactions seem to be mutual or neutral.[11] American badgers and coyotes have been seen hunting together in a cooperative fashion.[12]


The diet of the Eurasian badger consists largely of earthworms, insects, and grubs. They also eat small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds as well as roots and fruit.[13][14] Indeed, in southern Spain, badgers mostly feed on rabbits.[15] The honey badger of Africa consumes honey, porcupines and even venomous snakes (such as the puff adder). They will climb trees to gain access to honey from bees' nests. American badgers are fossorial carnivores. Unlike many carnivores that stalk their prey in open country, badgers catch most of their food by digging. They can tunnel after ground-dwelling rodents with amazing speed.

Badgers have been known to become intoxicated with alcohol after eating rotting fruit.[16]


Hunting badgers is common in many countries. Manipulating the badger population is prohibited in many European countries as badgers are listed in the Berne Convention, but they are not otherwise the subject of any international treaty or legislation.

The blood sport of badger-baiting was outlawed in the United Kingdom by the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835 as well as the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 which makes it a serious offence to kill, injure or take a badger, or to damage or interfere with a sett unless a licence is obtained from a statutory authority. An exemption that allowed fox hunters to loosely block setts to prevent chased foxes escaping into them was brought to an end with the passage of the Hunting Act 2004.

Many badgers in Europe were gassed[citation needed] during the 1960s and 1970s to control rabies. Until the 1980s, gassing was also practised in the UK to control the spread of bovine TB.

The dachshund dog breed has a history with badgers; "dachs" is the German word for badger, and dachshunds were originally bred to be badger hounds.[17]

Commercial use

Badger pelts

Today badgers are commercially raised for their hair, which is harvested to make shaving brushes. Virtually all commercial badger hair comes from mainland China,[citation needed] which supplies knots of hair in three grades to brush makers in both China and Europe. In rural Northern China, badgers multiply to the point of becoming a crop nuisance, and village cooperatives are licensed by the national government to hunt badgers and process their hair. The hair is also used for paint brushes, and was used as a trim on Native American garments.[18] It has been used in some instances as doll hair.[citation needed]


Although rarely eaten today in the United States or the United Kingdom,[19] badger was once one of the main meat sources in the diets of Native Americans and white colonists.[20][21][22][23][24] Badgers were also eaten in Britain during World War II and the 1950s.[21]

In Russia, the consumption of badger meat is still widespread.[25] Shish kebabs made from badger, along with dog meat and pork, are cited as a major source of trichinellosis outbreaks in the Altai region of Russia.[25] Consumption of badger meat also occurs in other European countries such as Croatia, where it is used in a variation of the traditional dish of goulash.[26] In contrast to Russia, there are no reports of trichinellosis related to the consumption of badger meat. This is credited to adequate preparation of the meat and good thermal processing of it.[24]

In France, badger meat was used in the preparation of several dishes, such as Blarieur au sang and it was a relatively common ingredient in countryside cuisine.[27] Badger meat was eaten in some parts of Spain until recently[28] Some Asian countries have traditions of consuming badger meat. In Japan, it is mentioned in folktales where it is regarded as a food for the humble.[29]

Popular culture

Badger, Rat, Mole, and Toad from The Wind in the Willows.

Badger characters are featured in author Brian Jacques' Redwall series, most often falling under the title of Badger Lord or Badger Mother, and 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 is a badger. A badger god is featured in The Immortals by Tamora Pierce and "The Badger" is a comic book hero created by Mike Baron.

Many other stories featuring badgers as characters include Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Mr. Tod (Tommy Brock), the Rupert Bear adventures by Mary Tourtel, Prince Caspian (Trufflehunter) by C. S. Lewis, Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows, T. H. White's The Once and Future King and The Book of Merlyn, Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl, Colin Dann's The Animals of Farthing Wood, Richard Adams's Watership Down and Erin Hunter's Warriors. In the Harry Potter books, the official mascot of the Hogwarts house of Hufflepuff is the badger, featuring this animal in the house's coat of arms as well as in the entire school's. The Hufflepuff common room has little underground tunnels leading to the dormitories, all of which have perfectly round doors, like barrel tops (much like a badger sett). In The Incident at Hawks Hill by Allan W. Eckert a badger is one of the main characters.

Badgers are also featured in films and animations: a flash video of "The Badger Song" shows a group doing calisthenics; in Pokémon, Typhlosion and Linoone are based on badgers. Walt Disney's 1973 film Robin Hood, depicts the character of Friar Tuck as a badger.

In Japanese folklore, the badger is a wild creature that sometimes appears as a mischievous being.[30] In Europe, badgers were traditionally used to predict the length of winter.[31] The badger is both the state animal of the U.S. state of Wisconsin[32] and the mascot of the University of Wisconsin's athletic teams. The badger is also the official mascot of Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

In 2007 suggestions that British forces deliberately released man-eating badgers near Basra, Iraq, to intimidate the local population were refuted.[33][34]

Badgers are found in the game Dwarf Fortress, are found in groups of three to six, are extremely quick, and are prone to rage. Dwarves may like them for their underground communities and their striped faces.


  1. ^ Anjali Goswami; Anthony Friscia (30 September 2010). Carnivoran Evolution: New Views on Phylogeny, Form and Function. Cambridge University Press. p. 30. ISBN 9780521735865. 
  2. ^ Ernest G. Neal, C. L. Cheeseman (1996) Badgers, p. 2, T. & A.D. Poyser ISBN 0856610828
  3. ^ a b Weiner, E. S. C.; Simpson, J. R. (1989). The Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-861186-2. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  4. ^ Sorin Mihai Olteanu, The Thracian Palatal (Accessed: April 3rd, 2010).
  5. ^ The Romanian Etymological Dictionary. Online at
  6. ^ Hints and Things: collective nouns Retrieved 28 June 2010
  7. ^ Berta, A. & Morgan, G.S. (1985). "A new sea otter (Carnivora, Mustelidae) from the Late Miocene and Early Pliocene (Hemphillian) of North America". J. Paleontology 59 (4): 809–819. JSTOR 1304931. 
  8. ^ Sleeman, D.P., Davenport, J., Cussen.R.E. and Hammond, R.F. 2009. The small-bodied badgers (Meles meles (L.) of Rutland Island, Co. Donegal. Ir. Nat. J. 30: 1–6
  9. ^ Brink van den, F.H. 1967. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Britain and Europe. Collins, London
  10. ^ a b c Duckworth, J.W. & Brickle, N.W. (2008). Melogale orientalis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 21 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of data deficient
  11. ^ Kiliaan HPL, Mamo C, Paquet PC (1991) A Coyote, Canis latrans, and Badger, Taxidea taxus, interaction near Cypress Hills Provincial Park, Alberta. Canadian Field Naturalist 105: 122–12
  12. ^ Cahalane VH (1950) Badger-coyote "partnerships." Journal of Mammalogy 31: 354–355
  13. ^ "Badger Ecology: diet". Woodchester Park Badger Research. Central Science Laboratory. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  14. ^ "Diet of the Eurasian badger". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  15. ^ Fedriani, J.M., Ferreras, P. & Delibes, M. (1998). "Dietary response of the Eurasian badger, Meles meles, to a decline of its main prey in the Doñana National Park". Journal of Zoology 245 (2): 214–218. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1998.tb00092.x. 
  16. ^ AFP: Drunk badger blocks German road. (2009-07-08). Retrieved on 2011-11-07.
  17. ^ "Dachshund, Dachshunds, Wiener Dog, little hot dog, hotdog dog". Dog Breed Info Center. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  18. ^ "ADW: Taxidea taxus: Information". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  19. ^ "Wonderland: The Man Who Eats Badgers and Other Strange Tales – TV pick of the day for January 23rd, 2008". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  20. ^ "Primary Source documents". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  21. ^ a b "How To Bake A Badger". Archived from the original on 2007-07-15. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  22. ^ "Summary of Trichinellosis Outbreaks (2001–2004)". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  23. ^ "MESO: The first Croatian meat journal, Vol.VII No.1 February 2005". Hrcak. 1 February 2005. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  24. ^ a b Tihomir Florijančić, Albert Marinculić, Boris Antunović, and Ivica Bošković (2006). "A survey of the current status of sylvatic trichinellosis in the Republic of Croatia". Veterinarski Arhiv 76 (7): S1–S8. 
  25. ^ a b "Summary of Trichinellosis Outbreaks (2001–2005) – Russia". Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  26. ^ "Sweet delicacy from hunter's kitchen – badger (Melles melles L.) Abstract". Portal of scientific journals of Croatia. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  27. ^ Molinier, Annie ; Molinier, Jean-Claude; d'Hauterives, Benoît Lumeau. (2004). Les cuisines oubliées. Illinois: Editions Sud Ouest. ISBN 978-2879015491.  Parts of it online at [1]
  28. ^ "Badgers in Spain". IberiaNature. Retrieved 2008-11-25. 
  29. ^ Radin, Paul (1946). "Folktales of Japan as Told in California". The Journal of American Folklore 59 (233): 289–308. doi:10.2307/536252. JSTOR 536252. 
  30. ^ Jeremy Roberts: Japanese Mythology A to Z, 2nd edition, 2010. ISBN 978-1-60413-435-3.
  31. ^ Yoder, Don, Groundhog Day. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003 ISBN 0-8117-0029-1
  32. ^ EEK! – Critter Corner – The Badger. Retrieved on 2011-11-07.
  33. ^ "British blamed for Basra badgers". BBC News. 12 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  34. ^ Carney, Mike (12 July 2007). "Brits 'deny' releasing 'giant man-eating' badgers that target Iraqis". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Badger — ist der Name mehrerer Orte: in Kanada: Badger (Neufundland und Labrador) in Großbritannien: Badger (Stropshire) in den Vereinigten Staaten: Badger (Iowa) Badger (Kalifornien) Badger (Kansas) Badger (Kentucky) Badger (Minnesota) Badger (Nebraska)… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Badger — Badger, IA U.S. city in Iowa Population (2000): 610 Housing Units (2000): 232 Land area (2000): 1.691226 sq. miles (4.380256 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.691226 sq. miles (4.380256 sq. km)… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • badger — [baj′ər] n. pl. badgers or badger [16th c. term for earlier brock < bageard < ? ME bage,BADGE + ard, ARD, in allusion to white spot on face] 1. any of certain mammals of a family (Mustelidae) of burrowing carnivores (esp. genera Taxidea and …   English World dictionary

  • Badger — Badg er, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Badgered}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Badgering}.] [For sense 1, see 2d {Badger}; for 2, see 1st {Badger}.] 1. To tease or annoy, as a badger when baited; to worry or irritate persistently. [1913 Webster] 2. To beat down; to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • badger — ● badger verbe intransitif Introduire son badge dans un lecteur pour accéder à un local ou en sortir, ou pour enregistrer ses horaires de travail. badger [badʒe] v. intr. ÉTYM. V. 1990; de badge. ❖ ♦ Introduire un badge (3.) dans un lecteur… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Badger, IA — U.S. city in Iowa Population (2000): 610 Housing Units (2000): 232 Land area (2000): 1.691226 sq. miles (4.380256 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.691226 sq. miles (4.380256 sq. km) FIPS code:… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Badger, MN — U.S. city in Minnesota Population (2000): 470 Housing Units (2000): 228 Land area (2000): 1.332007 sq. miles (3.449882 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.332007 sq. miles (3.449882 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Badger, SD — U.S. town in South Dakota Population (2000): 144 Housing Units (2000): 66 Land area (2000): 1.064676 sq. miles (2.757498 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 1.064676 sq. miles (2.757498 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Badger — Badg er, n. [OE. bageard, prob. fr. badge + ard, in reference to the white mark on its forehead. See {Badge},n.] 1. A carnivorous quadruped of the genus {Meles} or of an allied genus. It is a burrowing animal, with short, thick legs, and long… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Badger — Badg er, n. [Of uncertain origin; perh. fr. an old verb badge to lay up provisions to sell again.] An itinerant licensed dealer in commodities used for food; a hawker; a huckster; formerly applied especially to one who bought grain in one place… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • badger — I verb abuse, afflict, aggravate, aggrieve, annoy, annoy excessively, assail, bait, beset, bother, bully, chafe, discomfort, discommode, discompose, disconcert, disquiet, distress, disturb, disturb keenly, exasperate, excruciate, fret, goad,… …   Law dictionary