Eurasian badger, wildlife, Cotswolds

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Eurasian Badger Facts | Wildlife & Flora in the Cotswolds

The largest member of the mustelid species found in the UK, this heavy-bodied short-tailed mammal is distinctive for its black and white striped face. Featured in pop culture and folklore throughout Europe, the natural traits of the badger have influenced their fictional counterparts for generations.

Badgers are nocturnal and thus rarely seen during the daytime as this is when they are retired to their extensive system of underground tunnels known as a sett. Setts are typically excavated into existing banks, such as along hedgerows, verges, river banks and historic archaeological features such as hillforts. Badgers do not share the hedgehog's aversion to arable land. Their prime habitat is pasture located in deciduous woodland with soil rich in earthworms, which serves as their primary food source. This habitat frequently overlaps with livestock farming. Badgers will occasionally exploit other food sources such as fruit and berries and have been documented feeding on hedgehogs when food is scarce.

Badgers live in social groups of typically around six and will defend a territory of up to 370 acres using their shallow latrine pits to mark boundaries. Mating takes place between February and May, with delayed implantation occurring in December. Only one female from the social group will breed, and she will typically have a litter of 2 or 3 cubs sometime in February. These cubs will be born hairless and blind, but by 12 weeks, they have been weaned and are feeding independently.

The badger population in the UK is thought to have stabilized following a decline in the early 20th century due to badger baiting and digging by people who saw them as pests. There is a current concern that badgers may be responsible for carrying and transmitting bovine tuberculosis, which is of particular concern to farmers considering their proclivity for livestock habitats.
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