This page will be about a badger sett which I am particular close to, I am actually very privelidged because the Badgers sett exists in the neighbours garden, and this makes it very easy to observe and watch-the badgers often only come out at night and hopefully I will be posting observations of their lives and their behaviour, hope you enjoy!….
Okay, I think it’s time to talk about…the Badgers!, as I’ve explained previously; I’m very fortunate in the fact that I have an occupied badger sett in the garden next to mine- whether the neighbours themselves actually know it’s there I don’t know, but I think I’ll have to tell them they’ve got a large family of protected mammals living in close quarters to them sooner or later!.
The Badgers here only come out at night and therefore I have to go out into the garden quite late if I want to see them in action, I’ve gone outside previously and from what I’ve observed there appears to be around three pups and at least two or three adults, all of the Badgers appear to be in good condition, and certainly make a lot of noise when their foraging.
A badgers territory can extend from around 300-500m in a radius from their sett, this possibly massive territory meant that obviously a sight for foraging would include my garden and the other gardens around; which also meant that as badgers themselves leave very telltale signs of where they have been-it made for a very interesting detective game!. One telltale sign of a badger is their snuffle holes, these are funnel shaped holes that are made when a badger is searching for roots or earthworms (note: you can actually tell which food source the Badgers has been trying to get at – earthworm hunting will leave small holes at the base of the hole where the worm has been extracted from, whilst a torn up tangle of roots is an obvious giveaway), this also meant that our entire lawn was similar to a minefield in appearance due to the amount of snuffle holes that covered it, rabbits also make snuffle holes, but theirs differ in appearance as they tend to be more shallow and wider. When foraging badgers will let nothing stand in their way, and their long, strong toes and sharp claws make quick work of tough plant stems and overturned rocks and stones.
When tracking any animal, especially mammals, the best (in my opinion) telltale sign of which animal has been and gone is their excrement – this can tell you what the animal has eaten, therefore allowing you to narrow down the animal, the shape is also a giveaway. Badgers are quite tidy fellows when it comes to this-they make things called dung holes; small holes similar to snuffle holes but obviously containing dung, these holes are often used, along with scent, to mark out a badgers territory (so look out for them on the edges of the territory – this mean that I have never seen the dung holes of my badgers, but I have seen others in other areas), but there is a main dung hole, which is used by all of the Badgers, this is a bit larger than the typical dung hole, and is not too far from the sett (on the boundaries between territories there are often large amounts of these dung holes, as each clan will make itself known to the other.
As I’ve said, dung is a clear giveaway-a badgers dung itself, when wet, is usually very slimy (particularly if they’ve eaten a lot of earthworms) sausage shaped (sorry if you’re eating your lunch at this point!), about 2cm thick and around about 10cm long, the scat/dung should contain hair and bones of whatever animals it has eaten, and also seeds and stones of plant matter of fruit, plus the odd undigested insect part (wings for example). As you can imagine, I was extremely excited when I found one of my badgers dung holes, and then set about gathering some and preparing to take it apart (note: The First-time Naturalist by Nick Baker has some wonderful advice on how to do this), that was yesterday night, so more updates on that later.
The Badgers sett itself is huge and I’m surprised the neighbours never seem to notice it, the area around it is mowed regularly by the neighbours and has got very short grass- which is ideal for the Badgers when they are searching for earthworms – obviously the giveaway sign for it was the gigantic spoil heap that surrounded one whole side of the sett entrance- in older setts, as I presume this was, you will see a deep rut in front of the entrance, this is made by the adult badgers dragging nest material into the burrow (older nesting material is also a good sign of badgers as it sometimes exists as old grass, moss, etc. which is strewn outside the entrance of the burrow. But obviously, the biggest giveaway of all was the Badgers themselves, I remember I was out at night trying to unsuccessfully set up a moth trap (unsuccessful because it had rained and all my materials were ruined!), I was getting pretty annoyed and probably making a lot of noise, when suddenly I heard a sharp crack-I turned and found myself staring across the garden into the eyes of a long striped face…which quickly turned and scampered off into the bushes into the next garden. I was left completely speechless; and was about to turn when another black and white form materialised from the sett (okay, I’m probably dramatising this a bit, but I was very excited) and again scampered away to join its companion.
Since then I’ve kept going out and regularly see them coming out of their sett to forage when night falls – if you’re very quiet and stay quite still you can watch them as they move around the gardens in the surrounding area, searching for food. But although badgers are the main topic here, I did see other wildlife when I was out and about- I remember almost stepping on a hedgehog once as it made its way across the lawn (this may be a problem, as badgers will eat hedgehogs if they come across them), and there’s no end to the amount of moths that are out and about, you can also catch a glimpse of the odd fox if your lucky.
So that’s all for now, hope you enjoyed this first update on the lives of these beautiful animals.