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Scientific classification

 Mydaus (Family Mephitidae)  Taxidea

Mustelid badger ranges

     Honey badger (Mellivora capensis)      American badger (Taxidea taxus)      European badger (Meles meles)      Asian badger (Meles leucurus)      Japanese badger (Meles anakuma)      Chinese ferret-badger (Melogale moschata)      Burmese ferret-badger (Melogale personata)      Javan ferret-badger (Melogale orientalis)      Bornean ferret-badger (Melogale everetti)

Badgers are short-legged mammals found across Europe, Africa, North America and Asia.

Physical description

Badgers have wide bodies, with short legs for digging.[1] They have long weasel-like heads with small ears. Their tails vary in length depending on species. They have black faces with white markings and grey bodies with a light-coloured stripe from head to tail. They have dark legs with light coloured underbellies. They grow to around 90 centimetres (35 in) in length including the tail. The European badger is one of the largest badgers. The American badger, the hog badger and the honey badger are a little smaller and lighter. They weigh around 9.1–11 kg (20–24 lb) on average, with some badgers in Europe and Asia weighing about 18 kg (40 lb)

A male badger is called a boar.[2] A female is called a sow.[2] A young badger is called a cub.[2]


Badgers are found in North America, Ireland, Britain[3] and most of Europe. The Javan ferret-badger lives in Indonesia.[4] The Bornean ferret-badger lives in Malaysia.[4] The honey badger is found in sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabian Desert, southern Levant, Turkmenistan, and India.[5]


Badgers all live underground.[6] They live in burrows called setts, which may be very large. Some live on their own, moving from home to home. Others are known to form family groups called cetes. Between two and fifteen badgers can live in a cete at one time. Badgers can run or gallop at speeds of up to 25–30 km/h (16–19 mph) for short periods of time. Badgers are only active at night. They can dig a hole fast enough to escape most predators.[6] They fill in the hole behind them as they dig.[6]


The badger’s diet is mainly small mammals; mice, gophers and squirrels.[6] They eat amphibians, reptiles and birds. Badgers also eat earthworms, insects, grubs, and bird eggs. They will sometimes eat roots and fruit. In Britain, they are the main predator of hedgehogs. Badgers have been known to become drunk from the alcohol found in rotting fruit.



  1. James C. Halfpenny, A Field Guide to Mammal Tracking in Western America (Boulder: Johnson Books, 1986), p. 87
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Michael Leach, Badger (New York: Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2009), p. 5
  3. 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. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Duckworth, J.W. & Brickle, N.W. (2008). Melogale orientalis. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2008. Retrieved on 21 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of data deficient
  5. Begg, K., Begg, C. & Abramov, A. (2008). Mellivora capensis. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2008. Retrieved on 21 March 2009.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 L. DeVere Burton, Fish & wildlife: principles of zoology and ecology (New York: Thompson/Delmar, 2010), p. 178