Badger

Badgers are short-legged omnivores in the families Mustelidae (which also includes the otters, polecats, weasels, and wolverines), and Mephitidae (which also includes the skunks). They are not a natural taxonomic grouping, but are united by possession of a squat body adapted for fossorial activity. All belong to the caniform suborder of carnivoran mammals. The 11 species of mustelid badgers are grouped in four subfamilies: Melinae (4 species, including the European badger), Helictidinae (5 species of ferret-badger), Mellivorinae (the honey badger or ratel), and Taxideinae (the American badger); the respective genera are Arctonyx, Meles, Melogale, Mellivora and Taxidea. Badgers include the most basal mustelids; the American badger is the most basal of all, followed succesively by the ratel and Melinae.[1] The two species of Asiatic stink badgers of the genus Mydaus were formerly included within Melinae (and thus Mustelidae), but recent genetic evidence indicates these are actually members of the skunk family.[2]

Badger mandibular condyles connect to long cavities in their skulls, giving resistance to jaw dislocation and increasing their bite grip strength,[3] but in turn limiting jaw movement to hinging open and shut, or sliding from side to side but not the twisting movement possible for the jaws of most mammals.

Badgers have rather short, wide bodies, with short legs for digging. They have elongated, weasel-like heads with small ears. Their tails vary in length depending on species; the stink badger has a very short tail, while the ferret badger's tail can be 46–51 cm (18–20 in) long, depending on age. They have black faces with distinctive white markings, grey bodies with a light-coloured stripe from head to tail, and dark legs with light-coloured underbellies. They grow to around 90 cm (35 in) in length including tail.

The European badger is one of the largest; the American badger, the hog badger, and the honey badger are generally a little smaller and lighter. Stink badgers are smaller still, and ferret badgers smallest of all. They weigh around 9–11 kg (20–24 lb), with some Eurasian badgers around 18 kg (40 lb).[4]

Badger
Badger-badger
European badger
Scientific classification
Kingdom:
Phylum:
Class:
Order:
Suborder:
Superfamily:
Family:
Subfamily:
Genera

 Arctonyx
 Meles
 Mellivora
 Melogale
 Mydaus (Family Mephitidae)  Taxidea

Badger species map
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)

Etymology

AmericanBadger
An adult female (sow) American badger

The word "badger", originally applied to the European badger (Meles meles), comes from earlier bageard (16th century),[5] presumably referring to the white mark borne like a badge on its forehead.[6] Similarly, a now archaic synonym was bauson ‘badger’ (1375), a variant of bausond ‘striped, piebald’, from Old French bausant, baucent ‘id.’.[7]

The less common name brock (Old English: brocc), (Scots: brock) is a Celtic loanword (cf. Gaelic broc and Welsh broch, from Proto-Celtic *brokkos) meaning "grey".[6] The Proto-Germanic term was *þahsuz (cf. German Dachs, Dutch das, Norwegian svintoks; Early Modern English dasse), probably from the PIE root *tek'- "to construct," so the badger would have been named after its digging of setts (tunnels); the Germanic term *þahsuz became taxus or taxō, -ōnis in Latin glosses, replacing mēlēs ("marten" or "badger"),[8] and from these words the common Romance terms for the animal evolved (Italian tasso, French taissonblaireau is now more common—Catalan toixó, Spanish tejón, Portuguese texugo).[9]

A male European badger is a boar, a female is a sow, and a young badger is a cub. In North America the young are usually called kits, while the terms male and female are generally used for adults. A collective name suggested for a group of colonial badgers is a cete,[10] but badger colonies are more often called clans. A badger's home is called a sett.[11]

Classification

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

Distribution

Badgers are found in much of North America, Ireland, Great Britain[14] and most of the rest of Europe as far north as southern Scandinavia.[15] They live as far east as Japan and China. The Javan ferret-badger lives in Indonesia,[16] and the Bornean ferret-badger lives in Malaysia.[17] The honey badger is found in most of sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabian Desert, southern Levant, Turkmenistan, and India.[18]

Behavior

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 called cetes. Cete size is variable from two to 15.

Badgers can run or gallop at 25–30 km/h (16–19 mph) for short periods of time.

Badgers are nocturnal.[19]

In North America, coyotes sometimes eat badgers and vice versa, but the majority of their interactions seem to be mutual or neutral.[20] American badgers and coyotes have been seen hunting together in a cooperative fashion.[21]

Diet

The diet of the Eurasian badger consists largely of earthworms (especially Lumbricus terrestris),[22] insects, grubs, and the eggs and young of ground-nesting birds. They also eat small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds, as well as roots and fruit.[23] In Britain, they are the main predator of hedgehogs, which have demonstrably[24] lower populations in areas where badgers are numerous, so that hedgehog rescue societies do not release hedgehogs into known badger territories.[25] They are occasional predators of domestic chickens,[26] and are able to break into enclosures that a fox cannot. In southern Spain, badgers feed to a significant degree on rabbits.[27]

American badgers are fossorial carnivores – i.e. they catch a significant proportion of their food underground, by digging. They can tunnel after ground-dwelling rodents at speed.

The honey badger of Africa consumes honey, porcupines, and even venomous snakes (such as the puff adder); they climb trees to gain access to honey from bees' nests.

Badgers have been known to become intoxicated with alcohol after eating rotting fruit.[28]

Relation with humans

Hunting

Hunting badgers for sport has been common in many countries. The Dachshund (German for "badger hound") dog breed was bred for this purpose. Badger-baiting was formerly a popular blood sport.[29] Although badgers are normally quite docile, they fight fiercely when cornered. This led people to capture and box badgers and then wager on whether a dog could succeed in removing the badger from its refuge.[30] In England, opposition from naturalists led to its ban under the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835 and the Protection of Badgers Act of 1992[31] made it an offence to kill, injure, or take a badger or to interfere with a sett unless under license from a statutory authority. The Hunting Act of 2004 further banned fox hunters from blocking setts during their chases.

Taxidea taxus (American badger) fur skin
Badger pelts

Badgers have been trapped commercially for their pelts, which have been used for centuries to make shaving brushes,[32][30] a purpose to which it is particularly suited owing to its high water retention. Virtually all commercially available badger hair now comes from mainland China, though, which has farms for the purpose. The Chinese supply three grades of hair to domestic and foreign brush makers.[33] Village cooperatives are also licensed by the national government to hunt and process badgers to avoid their becoming a crop nuisance in rural northern China. The European badger is also used as trim for some traditional Scottish clothing. The American badger is also used for paintbrushes[32] and as trim for some Native American garments.[34]

Culling

Controlling the badger population is prohibited in many European countries since badgers are listed in the Berne Convention but they are not otherwise the subject of any international treaty or legislation. Many badgers in Europe were gassed during the 1960s and 1970s to control rabies.[35]

Until the 1980s badger culling in the United Kingdom was undertaken in the form of gassing, allegedly to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis (bTB). Limited culling resumed in 1998 as part of a 10-year randomised trial cull, which was considered by John Krebs and others to show that culling was ineffective. Some groups called for a selective cull,[36] whilst others favoured a programme of vaccination. Wales and Northern Ireland are currently (2013) conducting field trials of a badger vaccination programme.[37] In 2012 the government authorised a limited cull[38] led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. However it was later deferred and a wide range of reasons given.[39] In August 2013 a full culling programme began whereby it was expected that about 5,000 badgers would be killed over six weeks in West Somerset and Gloucestershire using a mixture of controlled shooting and free shooting. (Some badgers were to be trapped in cages first.) The cull caused many protests, with emotional, economic and scientific reasons being cited. The badger is considered an iconic species of the British countryside and it has been claimed by shadow ministers that "The government's own figures show it will cost more than it saves...", and Lord Krebs, who led the Randomised Badger Culling Trial in the 1990s, said the two pilots "will not yield any useful information".[37]

Food

Although rarely eaten today in the United States or the United Kingdom,[40] badgers were once a primary meat source for the diets of Native Americans and European colonists.[41][42][43][44][45] Badgers were also eaten in Britain during World War II and the 1950s.[42] In some areas of Russia, the consumption of badger meat is still widespread.[46] Shish kebabs made from badger, along with dog meat and pork, are a major source of trichinosis outbreaks in the Altai Region of Russia.[46] In Croatia, badger meat is rarely eaten. But when it is, it's usually smoked, dried, or served in goulash.[47] In France, badger meat was used in the preparation of several dishes, such as Blaireau au sang, and it was a relatively common ingredient in countryside cuisine.[48] Badger meat was eaten in some parts of Spain until recently.[49]

Pets

Badgers can be tamed and then kept as pets.[50] Keeping a badger as a pet or offering one for sale is an offence in the United Kingdom under the 1992 Protection of Badgers Act.[51]

In popular culture

In medieval times, badgers were thought to work together to dig holes under mountains. They were said to lie down at the entrance of the hole holding a stick in their mouths, while other badgers piled dirt on their bellies. Two badgers would then take hold of the stick in the badger's mouth, and drag the animal loaded with dirt away, almost in the fashion of a wagon.[52]

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, beginning with Bedtime for Frances (1948–1970), is depicted as a badger. Trufflehunter is a heroic badger in the Chronicles of Narnia book Prince Caspian (1951) by C. S. Lewis.

Badger characters are featured in author Brian Jacques' Redwall series (1986–2011), most often falling under the title of Badger Lord or Badger Mother. A badger god is featured in The Immortals (1992–1996) by Tamora Pierce and "The Badger" is a comic book hero created by Mike Baron. The badger is the emblem of the Hufflepuff house of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter book series (1997–2007), it is chosen as such because the badger is an animal that is often underestimated, because it lives quietly until attacked, but which, when provoked, can fight off animals much larger than itself, which resembles the Hufflepuff house in several ways.

Many other stories featuring badgers as characters include Kenneth Grahame's children's novel The Wind in the Willows (1908), Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Mr. Tod (1912; featuring badger Tommy Brock), the Rupert Bear adventures by Mary Tourtel (appearing since 1920), T. H. White's Arthurian fantasy novels The Once and Future King (1958, written 1938–41) and The Book of Merlyn (1977), Fantastic Mr. Fox (1970) by Roald Dahl, Richard Adams's Watership Down (1972), Colin Dann's The Animals of Farthing Wood (1979), and Erin Hunter's Warriors (appearing since 2003). In the historic novel Incident at Hawk's Hill (1971) 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 the Doctor Snuggles series, Dennis the handyman, was a badger. In Weird Al Yankovic's 1989 film UHF, one scene shows Raul Hernandez checking off a shipment of animals he’s receiving against the order form, giving him an opportunity to parody a famous quote from both the 1948 movie The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and the subsequent 1974 Mel Brooks film Blazing Saddles: “Badgers? Badgers? We don’t need no stinking badgers!”[53]

In Europe, badgers were traditionally used to predict the length of winter.[54] The badger is the state animal of the US state of Wisconsin[55] and Bucky Badger is the mascot of the athletic teams at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The badger is also the official mascot of Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada; The University of Sussex, England; and St Aidan's College at the University of Durham.

In 2007, the appearance of honey badgers around the British base at Basra, Iraq, fuelled rumours among the locals that British forces deliberately released "man-eating" and "bear-like" badgers to spread panic. These allegations were denied by the British army and the director of Basra's veterinary hospital.[56]

The viral video Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger became popular in 2011, attaining over 68 million views on YouTube as of July 2014. The video features footage from the Nat Geo WILD network of honey badgers fighting jackals, invading beehives, and eating cobras, with a voiceover added by the uploader, "Randall".

On 28 August 2013 the PC video game Shelter was released by developers Might and Delight in which players control a mother badger protecting her cubs.[57]

As a sub-series of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, Sticks the Badger is one of the main characters of the Sonic Boom series.[58][59]

References

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  59. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsIvZ0lcYDM

External links

American badger

The American badger (Taxidea taxus) is a North American badger, somewhat similar in appearance to the European badger, although not closely related. It is found in the western and central United States, northern Mexico, and south-central Canada to certain areas of southwestern British Columbia.

The American badger's habitat is typified by open grasslands with available prey (such as mice, squirrels, and groundhogs). The species prefers areas such as prairie regions with sandy loam soils where it can dig more easily for its prey.

Badgers (animation)

Badgers is a Flash cartoon by British animator Jonathan "Jonti" Picking (a.k.a. "Weebl"). It consists of 12 animated cartoon badgers doing calisthenics, a mushroom in front of a tree, and a snake in the desert. The Flash cartoon is accompanied by electronic dance music.This Flash cartoon was published on 2 September 2003. The cartoon loops indefinitely. The first two badger scenes contain twelve badgers; subsequent badger scenes contain eleven badgers.

Bornean ferret-badger

The Bornean ferret-badger (Melogale everetti), also known as Everett's ferret-badger or the Kinabalu ferret-badger, is a member of the family Mustelidae. The scientific name commemorates British colonial administrator and zoological collector Alfred Hart Everett.

It is nocturnal and mostly carnivorous but may eat some plants; with their diet including insects, snails, earthworms, lizards, small birds and rats (including carcasses) and fruit. Given its varied diet, it was recorded foraging in a small roadside dump site in 2003. The only known conservation measures are that it is protected by Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 as "Melogale personata" and it occurs in Kinabalu Park.

Bucky Badger

Buckingham U. "Bucky" Badger is the official mascot of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. They attend all major sporting events for the Wisconsin Badgers as well as hundreds of other events around Wisconsin every year.

Burmese ferret-badger

The Burmese ferret-badger (Melogale personata), also known as the large-toothed ferret-badger, is a species of mammal in the family Mustelidae.

Chinese ferret-badger

The Chinese ferret-badger (Melogale moschata), also known as the small-toothed ferret-badger is a member of the Mustelidae, and widely distributed in Southeast Asia. It is listed as Least Concern by IUCN and considered tolerant of modified habitat.

Dachshund

The dachshund (UK: /ˈdakshʊnd/ or US: DAHKS-huunt or ) (English: badger dog; also known as the sausage dog or wiener dog) is a short-legged, long-bodied, hound-type dog breed.

The standard size dachshund was developed to scent, chase, and flush out badgers and other burrow-dwelling animals, while the miniature dachshund was bred to hunt smaller prey such as rabbits. In the United States, they have also been used to track wounded deer and hunt prairie dogs.

Dachshunds also participate in conformation shows, field trials and many other events organized through pure-bred dog organizations such as the American Kennel Club (AKC). According to the AKC, the dachshund is ranked in 13th place in popularity amongst dog breeds in the United States.

European badger

The European badger (Meles meles) also known as the Eurasian badger or simply badger, is a species of badger in the family Mustelidae and is native to almost all of Europe and some parts of West Asia. Several subspecies are recognized; the nominate subspecies (Meles meles meles) predominates over most of Europe. The European badger is classified as being of least concern by the IUCN as it has a wide range and a large population size which is stable, and even increasing in some areas.

The European badger is a powerfully built black, white, brown and grey animal with a small head, a stocky body, small black eyes and short tail. Its weight varies, being 7–13 kg (15–29 lb) in spring but building up to 15–17 kg (33–37 lb) in autumn before the winter sleep period. It is nocturnal and is a social, burrowing animal that sleeps during the day in one of several setts in its territorial range. These burrows, which may house several badger families, have extensive systems of underground passages and chambers and have multiple entrances. Some setts have been in use for decades. Badgers are very fussy over the cleanliness of their burrow, carrying in fresh bedding and removing soiled material, and they defecate in latrines strategically situated around their territory.

Although classified as a carnivore, the European badger feeds on a wide variety of plant and animal foods, feeding on earthworms, large insects, small mammals, carrion, cereals and root tubers. Litters of up to five cubs are produced in spring. The young are weaned a few months later but usually remain within the family group. The European badger has been known to share its burrow with other species such as rabbits, red foxes and raccoon dogs, but it can be ferocious when provoked, a trait which has been exploited in the now illegal blood sport of badger-baiting. Bovine tuberculosis can sometimes affect badgers, and therefore a controversial trial culling of 70% of the population in areas of prolific TB outbreaks has taken place. No verifiable statistical data has however been published to support claims of a resulting 16% reduction.

Ferret-badger

Ferret-badgers are the five species of the genus Melogale, which is the only genus of the monotypic mustelid subfamily Helictidinae.

Bornean ferret-badger (Melogale everetti)

Chinese ferret-badger (Melogale moschata)

Javan ferret-badger (Melogale orientalis)

Burmese ferret-badger (Melogale personata)

Vietnam ferret-badger (Melogale cucphuongensis)

Hog badger

The hog badger (Arctonyx collaris), also known as greater hog badger, is a terrestrial mustelid native to Central and Southeast Asia. It is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because the global population is thought to be declining due to high levels of poaching.

Honey badger

The honey badger (Mellivora capensis), also known as the ratel ( or ), is widely distributed in Africa, Southwest Asia, and in the Indian subcontinent. Because of its wide range and occurrence in a variety of habitats, it is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.It is the only species in the mustelid subfamily Mellivorinae and its only genus Mellivora. Despite its name, the honey badger does not closely resemble other badger species; instead, it bears more anatomical similarities to weasels. It is primarily a carnivorous species and has few natural predators because of its thick skin and ferocious defensive abilities.

Notorious for their strength, ferocity, and toughness, honey badgers have been known to attack and repel almost any kind of animal when escape is impossible, even much larger predators like lions. They are listed as the "world's most fearless animal" in the Guinness Book of World Records due to their fearlessness.

Japanese badger

The Japanese badger (Meles anakuma) is a species of carnivoran of the family Mustelidae, the weasels and their kin. Endemic to Japan, it is found on Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, and Shōdoshima. It shares the genus Meles with the Asian and European badgers. In Japan it is called by the name nihonanaguma (ニホンアナグマ), lit. "Japan hole-bear" or mujina (むじな, 狢).

Javan ferret-badger

The Javan ferret-badger (Melogale orientalis) is a mustelid endemic to Java and Bali, Indonesia. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List and occurs from at least 260 to 2,230 m (850 to 7,320 ft) elevation in or close to forested areas.

Mustelidae

The Mustelidae (; from Latin mustela, weasel) are a family of carnivorous mammals, including weasels, badgers, otters, ferrets, martens, mink, and wolverines, among others. Mustelids are diverse and the largest family in the order Carnivora, suborder Caniformia. Mustelidae comprises about 56-60 species across eight subfamilies.

Stink badger

Stink badgers (Mydaus) are a genus of the skunk family of carnivorans, the Mephitidae. They resemble the better know members of family Mustelidae also termed 'badgers' (which are themselves a polyphyletic group). There are only two extant species - the Palawan stink badger (M. marchei), and the Sunda stink badger or Teledu (M. javanensis). They live only on western islands of the Malay Archipelago: Sumatra, Java, Borneo and (in the case of the Palawan stink badger) on the Philippine island of Palawan; as well as many other, smaller islands in the region.

Stink badgers are named for their resemblance to other badgers and for the foul-smelling secretions that they expel from anal glands in self-defense (which is stronger in the Sunda species).Stink badgers were traditionally thought to be related to Eurasian badgers in the subfamily Melinae of the weasel family of carnivorans (the Mustelidae), but recent DNA analysis indicates they share a more recent common ancestor with skunks, so experts have now placed them in the skunk family (the Mephitidae, which is the sister group of a clade composed of Mustelidae and Procyonidae, with the red panda also assigned to one of the sister clades). The two existing species are different enough from each other for the Palawan stink badger to be sometimes classified in its own genus, Suillotaxus.

Sunda stink badger

The Sunda stink badger (Mydaus javanensis), also called the Javan stink badger, teledu, Malay stink badger, Malay badger, Indonesian stink badger and Sunda skunk, is a mammal native to Indonesia and Malaysia. Despite the common name, stink badgers are not closely related to true badgers, and are, instead, Old World relatives of the skunks.

Tupolev Tu-16

The Tupolev Tu-16 (NATO reporting name: Badger) was a twin-engined jet strategic heavy bomber used by the Soviet Union. It has flown for more than 60 years, and the Chinese licence-built Xian H-6 remains in service with the People's Liberation Army Air Force.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin ( (listen)) is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States, in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin is the 23rd largest state by total area and the 20th most populous. The state capital is Madison, and its largest city is Milwaukee, which is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan. The state is divided into 72 counties.

Wisconsin's geography is diverse, having been greatly impacted by glaciers during the Ice Age with the exception of the Driftless Area. The Northern Highland and Western Upland along with a part of the Central Plain occupies the western part of the state, with lowlands stretching to the shore of Lake Michigan. Wisconsin is second to Michigan in the length of its Great Lakes coastline.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, a large number of European settlers entered the state, many of whom emigrated from Germany and Scandinavia. Like neighboring Minnesota, the state remains a center of German American and Scandinavian American culture.

Wisconsin is known as "America's Dairyland" because it is one of the nation's leading dairy producers, particularly famous for its cheese. Manufacturing, especially paper products, information technology (IT), cranberries, ginseng, and tourism are also major contributors to the state's economy.

Wisconsin Badgers

The Wisconsin Badgers are the athletic teams representing the University of Wisconsin–Madison (University of Wisconsin). They compete as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I level (Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) sub-level), primarily competing in the Big Ten Conference for all sports since the 1896–97 season. The women's ice hockey team competes in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), while the men's and lightweight women's crew team compete in the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC).The athletic director is Barry Alvarez, former head coach of the football team. The Badgers team colors are cardinal and white, and the team mascot is named "Buckingham U. Badger," known as "Bucky Badger." The Badgers have several major on-campus facilities, including Camp Randall Stadium, the UW Field House, and the Kohl Center.

Extant Carnivora species

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