American Badger (Taxidea taxus)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family:    Mustelidae
Size:    Length: 2 to 3 ft (61 to 91 cm)  Height: About 12 inches (30 cm) to shoulder
Weight: 14 to 40 lbs (6.4 to 18.1 kg) 
Diet: Mainly ground squirrels, mice, rats, gophers, young rabbits, slugs, roots, plants, honey and fruit
Distribution: Western U.S., southern Ontario, B.C., Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan
Young:  1 to 5 cubs, once per year
Animal Predators:  Coyote, golden eagle, grizzly bear
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Male: Boar   Female: Sow    Young: Cub
Lifespan: 4 to 14 years in the wild; up to 24 years in captivity



·         Badgers have poor eyesight.

·         Badger hair was once used for artists’ brushes and shaving brushes.

·         They have no fear of any other animal, including humans.

·         European badgers are somewhat similar in colouring, but have different temperaments.



American badgers have a black head with a white stripe running down the middle and white markings on the sides of their faces. Their powerful, stocky bodies are covered in yellow-gray fur and are grizzled on the back. Their feet are black and their front paws have very long, strong claws which enable them to dig fast and deep. 



Badger burrows tend to be largeup to 10 feet wide by 30 feet (3 to 9 m) deep. Badgers have several burrows within their home range—some badgers have up to 50 dens and sleep in a different one every night during the summer. American badgers are found mainly in Western North America. They live in open, dry places such as the prairies, but have also been known to exist in and around farmland. However, their large burrows often interfere with agriculture, resulting in their being poisoned or trapped. Badgers have large ranges, travelling long distances in search of food or during mating season. 


Feeding Habits

The main diet of American badgers consists of ground squirrels and prairie dogs—a badger will enter a prairie dog burrow, prey on the occupants, and then enlarge the burrow for its own.



Mating usually occurs from late winter to early summer, but the implantation of the eggs in the womb is delayed until December. One to five cubs are born in March or early April. Badgers are polygamous and may mate with several other badgers. Males take no part in caring for the cubs or the females. Eight weeks after their birth, the cubs begin to follow their mother out of the burrow to search for food, but they may nurse for up to 32 weeks. 



American badgers are usually nocturnal and will not leave their burrows until after dark. In quiet, unpopulated areas, they may be seen during the day. They are powerful diggers and have been known to dig furiously to escape an attacker, disappearing beneath the earth within seconds. Not easily killed, badgers exude a malodorous musk when threatened and put up a fierce fight. Badgers will retreat if possible, backing into a burrow and fending off their attacker with their sharp teeth and claws, then plugging up the entrance hole once safely inside. Badgers are capable swimmers and will cool off in water on hot days. Although they do not hibernate in winter, they may stay inside their burrows for several days during severe cold spells. 



Two subspecies of the American Badger (Taxidea taxus jeffersonii in BC and Taxidea taxus jacksoni in Ontario) are listed as Endangered in Canada. 



American Badger Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, USA