One of the most common animals in our country is the European badger. This small animal leads a very interesting way of life, quite unpretentious and omnivorous. It is completely safe and not aggressive, but in recent years its population has been greatly reduced. This is due to the destruction of badgers due to fur or healthy fat. These animals need to study, protect and take measures to increase their numbers. After all, the European badger brings invaluable benefits to the forest biocenosis and helps in the destruction of pests of agricultural plants.
Appearance of a badger
It is the largest animal of the Cunha family. The length of his body reaches a meter, and the form is very distinctive. This animal is massive and squat. This is what a badger looks like (photo below).
His sharp elongated muzzle passes into a short neck, and his body gradually expands to the back. The head is wedge-shaped, with a pointed elongated nose and small round ears. The badger's paws are short and massive, with a bare plantar surface. They end up with sharp and very strong claws, perfectly adapted for digging holes, besides capable of severely and painfully injuring the one who will anger the badger. But in general, this animal is not at all aggressive, moves slowly, sometimes irregularly. The color of the European badger is very characteristic: the head is light, two black stripes begin almost from the nose and pass through the eyes on the neck, gradually getting lost on the back, dark, almost black in it are also paws, stomach and chest. Badger fur is light gray, hard and long, but with a soft undercoat. The tail of the animal is short and rather fluffy.
European badger is quite undemanding to the habitat. It can be found everywhere in Europe. Especially they love deciduous and mixed forests, steppes and any non-flooded places where you can make holes. The only thing that badgers do not tolerate is cold, so they do not settle in the freezing soils in winter.
These animals are also not found in deserts and dry, waterless steppes. It is imperative for them to have water, in addition to be able to secretly approach it. But the European badger does not avoid the proximity of human habitation - if only it were possible to arrange a hole in an obscure place. These animals like to settle on the slopes of ravines and beams, on the high banks of rivers and lakes. They prefer places where forest thickets alternate with meadows and wastelands. If there is a lot of food around, then badgers can arrange burrows next to each other. This animal is rarely removed from the home by more than 500 meters.
What a badger eats
This animal is not a predator. In general, a badger is omnivorous, but very often it selects one kind of food and uses it only. It mainly depends on the place of residence of the animal. So, what a badger eats:
- Often the basis of its diet consists of insects, mostly large beetles, but sometimes the animal feeds on wasps.
- Loves the badger earthworms, larvae, snails, slugs and fish.
- Sometimes these animals catch vole mice, small birds, lizards or frogs.
- But most of all badgers love plant food: stems and leaves, rhizomes, berries, acacia pods, acorns, fruits, corn, oats, and more.
Even at the most hungry time, this animal will never eat carrion and the remains of feasts of predators. If he does not have enough food, he simply goes to another place and arranges a new hole.
This is a very interesting animal. He has an amazing behavior, often very different from the habits of other animals.
- Badger leads a semi-underground life. It leaves the hole only in the dark, and in winter often hibernates for several months. Therefore, it is almost impossible for an ordinary person to find out where a badger lives. It is also very difficult to make a photo of him, because he likes to go out on dark moonless nights, but even then he does not move far away from the hole.
- When moving, the badger creates too much noise: it snares, loudly rustles the leaves and picks at the ground.
- This animal moves rather slowly and hard. When walking, he lowers his head. He rarely runs, mostly moves in steps or jumps.
- The European badger is a very clean animal. Near his home you will not find food and other debris. He even digs special "latrines" in a secluded place near the hole. And the litter in its nest changes twice a year.
- The sight of these animals is very weak: they notice only moving objects. Their hearing is no sharper than that of a person. The badger is oriented only with the help of the sense of smell, which he has developed quite well.
- The voice of this animal resembles a grunt, it can also grumble, and at strong fright - squeal.
- The life of an animal is about 15 years.
This animal builds its own dwelling itself. In addition, it constantly expands and repairs. The new hole has from two to five exits. In a few years, the number of Lazy can reach 40 or more.
There are holes in the hole. The underground dwelling of a badger lies at a depth of at least one meter and is a complex system of galleries, footings, dead ends, emergency passages and extensions. Often they are located in several tiers and extend to a depth of more than five meters. Usually there are a couple of nesting chambers, often badgers have them under the aquifer that protects against seepage of groundwater. The length of the moves sometimes reaches 80 meters. If animals are not disturbed by anything and food is sufficient, then several generations can live in the same hole - it is inherited. Young badgers finish building the home and add new moves. Therefore, the old "badger" can occupy an area of more than a hectare.
Relations with other animals
Badgers are not at all aggressive animals. They are so tolerant to each other that several families can live in the same dwelling. Badgers have no natural enemies, only man is dangerous for him. But wolves and bears can hunt young animals. And adult animals are very careful and prefer to step back and hide in a hole, although even a large predator is hard to cope with such a rival.
If you piss him off, he squeals and bites loudly, and can also severely hurt the offender with claws. Sometimes other animals such as raccoons, ferrets, martens or foxes are hooked into the badger's hole. As long as they do not bother the owner, he tolerates them, only fences off. But the badger is a very clean animal, so quite often it drives the foxes out of its home.
What does he do in winter
The hibernation of a badger is similar to a bear. They do not sleep in the winter only where there is no frost. But more often badgers in the fall eat up fat, increasing in weight almost twice, and repair the hole, preparing it for hibernation. They warm the nest, dragging moss and dry leaves there. The badger throws out the old litter, as it is very clean. These animals also stock up food, putting it in special pantries in a hole. The roots and grains of plants are very useful badger when in the spring he wakes up hungry. They cease to appear on the surface after the onset of frost and snowfall, and come out in the spring with the onset of snowmelt. All animals from the hole before hibernation this animal clogs with earth and dry leaves.
These animals create a couple for several years, often even for a lifetime. Gon passes them in the spring or summer. The pregnancy of the female lasts from 9 to 12 months, and in the period from December to April, 2-3 badges are born.
They are blind and completely helpless in the first month. Only after three months of age, the young begin to emerge from the hole and receive other food than mother milk. Some of the young badgers leave the family in the fall, mate and dig their hole, but some remain and hibernate with their parents.
Badger has a very interesting lifestyle. This animal still retains its population, and it is believed that its population is not in danger. But a lot of them are destroyed because of the badger fur, which is used to make brushes and hats. Also valuable is its healing fat, which cures tuberculosis and various skin diseases. Animals also die because of human activities, the destruction of holes and the appearance of a large number of roads.
Badger is an animal that is widely distributed throughout Europe. Numerous animal populations are observed in Russia. In domestic spaces, the animal is found almost everywhere outside the Ural Mountains, in addition to the far north and areas with arid terrain. Badgers live also in Korea and China, on some islands of Japan.
The animal prefers to settle in dense mixed forests. Badger is rarely seen in the steppe regions. Animals live mainly in places where there is an abundance of shrubs and tall grasses, and the soil is never submerged by surface waters.
Badger feeding in nature
Despite its status as a predator, badgers are omnivorous animals. The daily diet of animals can undergo significant changes, based on the time of year. Badgers are nocturnal hunters. During the daytime, these animals prefer to remain in safe burrows, digesting food and gaining energy.
In the summer, in places where badgers live, plenty of all sorts of rodents, frogs and lizards. These creatures form the diet of animals in the warm season. Among other things, badgers are not against eating earthworms, large insects and their larvae, as well as all sorts of shellfish, slugs. In rare cases, their prey are birds that are in trouble. Sometimes badgers climb on low trees, where they engage in the destruction of birds nests. Also in the summertime, sweet vegetable roots, berries, nuts, mushrooms, and wild fruits become food for the animal.
With the arrival of autumn, badgers regularly make forays to farmland. Here, the animals are looking for leftovers from crops, absorbing the grain of corn, legumes, and other cultivated plants. In winter, when there is a shortage of food, in search of prey, these animals are able to travel tens of kilometers, then returning back to a warm and cozy hole.
Relationship with a person
Badgers are hunted for meat production very rarely. After all, the animal has a rather specific, somewhat repulsive scent. Dishes made from badger meat have not very pleasant taste. Commercial value also has no animal fur.
Of interest to humans is exclusively badger fat, which finds wide application in the treatment of diseases by folk methods. The study of the beneficial properties of this substance was the reason for the organization of farms where they are breeding an animal. Nowadays, the cultivation of badgers for fat extraction is a fairly profitable business. Animals are easily tamed. However, it is difficult for them to get on with dogs, to which the badgers show particular hostility and aggression.
What does a badger look like?
The badger looks like a medium sized animal. The common badger has a body length of 60 to 90 cm and a mass of up to 24 kg, while the length of its tail is 20-25 cm. Males are somewhat larger than females. Badger looks massive, due to the peculiar structure of the body. The badger animal has an oblong body shape, resembling a wedge facing forward.
The European badger has a narrow elongated muzzle with round shiny eyes and a very short neck. The badger animal has short strong legs, on the fingers of which there are long claws to dig holes.
The badger looks fluffy because of its long hair, which is pretty tough. Under the main fur of the European badger there is a warm and dense undercoat. The badger wool is colored gray or brown, often with a silvery sheen, and the lower part of the body is almost black.
Badger looks rather unusual. On its white face there are two wide dark stripes that stretch from nose to small ears with white tips. In winter, the badger looks brighter than in summer, when its wool gets darker shades. In the fall, the badger is gaining 10 kg of fat before hibernating to its usual weight. During this period, the badger looks especially large.
Where does the badger live?
The badger lives practically throughout Europe, with the exception of only the north of Finland and the Scandinavian Peninsula, since it does not inhabit frozen soils. Also, the animal badger lives in Minor and Western Asia, in the Caucasus and Transcaucasia.
Badger lives in mixed and taiga forests. Sometimes badgers live in mountain ranges and are also found in semi-deserts and steppes. Badger lives near water bodies and sticks to dry areas, avoiding flooded areas.
The badger's house is his hole. Badgers live in deep burrows that dig on the slopes of ravines, ravines and hills, high banks of rivers or lakes. The badger lives by spending most of the time in the burrow. The badger ordinary is a permanent and conservative animal, so the badger habitation holes are passed on from generation to generation.
In areas where there is an abundance of food, different families of badgers can form a whole city of badgers, combining their holes with each other. Each subsequent generation of badgers completes their burrows, breaking through new passages and expanding the family estate. So burrows of burrows turn into an underground city with dozens of exits.
Lonely badgers live in simple burrows, such a badger house has one entrance and a nesting chamber. But a large family of badgers lives in entire settlements. The city of badgers is a complex and multi-tiered underground structure with a multitude of inlet and air vents, with long tunnels, various passages and several nesting chambers. Nest chambers are usually located at a depth of at least 5 meters, they are spacious and lined with a dry bedding of grass.
Badgers arrange nesting chambers so that rainwater or groundwater does not leak. Badger ordinary - practical beast and loves comfort. Therefore, comfortable and dry holes of badgers are often occupied by foxes and raccoon dogs. This is not an easy life for a badger.
In addition, the animal badger is a rare scrub who regularly cleans the hole, throwing out garbage and periodically replacing the old litter. Even the pet badger suits the outside of the hole or allocates a special place in it. Also in the badger hole there are various rooms for the animal's household needs.
The life of a badger is peaceful, so the animal badger has almost no enemies in nature. Wolves and lynxes can be a threat to him. But the main danger for the European badger is man. In some cases, human activities lead to improved living conditions for badgers. But on the other hand, the network of roads built on natural sites increases the mortality of this animal and deprives it of its natural habitat zones. The greatest harm to badger populations comes from a person who destroys the badger holes. House badger is very important for the animal.
Badger is listed in the International Red Book under the status of "the least threatened to disappear." After all, this beast is quite common and has a stable population. But the badger is being hunted in order to obtain its healing fat, which is widely used in alternative medicine. In Europe, the badger was subjected to global extermination as a carrier of dangerous diseases.
The number of badgers significantly decreased in those areas that are engaged in vigorous economic activity. This led to the loss of the habitat of the badger, besides, it is being destroyed as a “pest” of crops. However, from the common badger more benefits than harm, because he eats many pests of agriculture.
Badgers are monogamous and often form pairs for many years or even for life. The mating season for the European badger begins at the end of winter and lasts until September. Since autumn, educated couples are preparing a nesting chamber in which badger beats should be born.
The pregnancy of the female has a prolonged period and its duration depends on the time at which the mating occurred. Therefore, the female can breed a badger from 9 to 14 months. Most often, from 2 to 6 badger cubs are born.
In Europe, badgers are born from December to April, and in Russia - in March-April. Badger cubs are born blind, deaf and helpless. Only at the age of 1.5 months, the badger cubs begin to see and begin to hear. Mother feeds badger with milk for almost 3 months.
But very soon the badger cubs will already begin to walk out of the hole and feed on their own. By the age of 6 months, the badger cubs almost reach the size of adults. In the fall, the brood falls apart. After that, each badger begins an independent life.
Самки становятся способными к размножению в возрасте двух лет, а самцы – к трем годам жизни. В природе барсук живет 10-12 лет, а в неволе продолжительность жизни барсука достигает 16 лет.
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Nutrition.How does badger feed?
Badger is a truly omnivorous animal, it is not picky about food, but its diet strongly depends on the place of residence and time of year. On the hunt, he goes at night.
From animal food, the badger feeds on mouse-like rodents, frogs, lizards, fish, birds, eggs of birds, insects, larvae, mollusks, and earthworms.
From plant foods, he eats grass, roots, succulent tree branches, grain crops, plant fruits, fruits, berries, nuts, and more. Also uses mushrooms.
In general, in conditions of central Russia, a badger can eat about 50 different plant species and about the same number of animal species. The favorite delicacy of badgers is juicy earthworms, slugs, large beetles, so they practically do not need water intake.
In consumption of food, the badger is fairly moderate - it eats only 0.5 kg of food per day, except for the period of preparation for hibernation, when it is fattening.
Reproduction and longevity
Badgers are monogamous animals. They create a couple for several years, often for life. The mating season usually runs from late winter to early autumn. After fertilization, the pregnancy in the female lasts for a rather long period of time - from 9 months (with summer mating) to 12 months (with winter mating). On average, 2-3 are born in the litter, with a maximum of 6 cubs. Newborn badger weighs 70-80 grams.
Just a few days after giving birth, the female is ready for a new pregnancy. Puppies are born helpless, blind and deaf, but after a month they have a hearing, in the second month their eyes open, and three months after birth, they are gradually moving to independent feeding. Up to this point, the female badger feeds them with mother's milk.
For newborns, the first year of life is most dangerous and difficult; the mortality rate among them is up to 50% during this period. With the transition to self-nutrition, barsucata quickly gain weight and after six months in size catch up with their parents.
In the fall, badger families fall apart. Some of the young badgers leave the family in the fall, make a pair and dig their hole, but most remain and hibernate with their parents. Young females become sexually mature at the age of 2 years, males - at 3 years. In the badger population, approximately 73% of adults and 27% of juveniles.
How long does a badger live?
The life span of a badger in natural conditions is about 5-6 years (on average) up to 10-12 years (maximum), in captivity up to 15-16 years.
Only a third of the animals survive in their first 3 years of life. The causes of death may be different. They are killed by relatives in clashes for territory, they can be eaten by bears, lynxes, wolves, or they become prey for hunters, die on the roads or poisoning from toxic chemicals, die as a result of infectious diseases, etc.
Badgers have few natural enemies, they are large predators - bears, lynxes, wolves. In addition, he conflicts for food with foxes and raccoon dogs. Domestic and wild dogs are also a threat to him. Their victim is mainly young badgers, adults are very careful and prefer to retreat and hide in a hole.
But in case the badger was taken by surprise, it is not easy to cope with it even for large predators - it is desperately defended, loudly squeals, bites, and can hurt the offender badly with claws.
The greatest harm to badger populations is caused by the direct pursuit of these animals by humans and the destruction of underground storage facilities.
Badger and man
What is dangerous badger?
The badger does not pose a direct threat to humans. But he can tolerate a disease that is dangerous to humans - rabies. For this reason, measures are being taken to directly destroy badgers and their dwellings.
Badger is not afraid of people and can live in close proximity to human habitation. This creates some inconvenience for people, because the badger in search of food may also use the fruits of human labor - various crops of crops, which forces a person to limit his population in certain territories.
What is a badger useful for?
Brings badger and benefits man. A significant part of its diet consists of a large number of pests of agriculture, such as, for example, the larvae of the May beetle.
The skin of a badger due to coarse and tough wool does not represent much interest in the fur industry, but badger hair is used in particular for the manufacture of shaving brushes, as well as brushes for painting.
The hunt for badger in Russia is conducted mainly for the purpose of extracting badger fat, a popular remedy in alternative medicine.
Badger can be caught and kept in captivity, he easily finds a common language with the person and becomes a pet. But it's still easier to buy it.
Badger meat is edible, it resembles dried mutton to taste.
Get acquainted! Landowner Badger - pictures from life.
In satiated time, these beasts are more comfortable to live in dormitories, which are whole underground labyrinths of several tiers and sometimes up to a mile or more in length. The area of these premises where the badger lives can increase from year to year, from decade to decade. This is a very complex construction with multiple entrances and exits, places reserved for sleeping and storing supplies, as well as ventilation devices.
"Rooms" for living often lie very deep underground (deeper than the aquifer another 5-7 meters). Most often, each family has its own separate entrance to the burrow, and maybe several. It happens that several families can use one main entrance, but there will certainly be emergency exits.
A badger is a clean, economical animal, it does not sit on its place; its house loves and takes care of it: it will take out the litter, then the hole will be repaired, fixed, improved.
For badger habitat is not limited to burrows.
There is also order and cleanliness around the hole: neatly dug channels for the toilet not far from the dwelling, and everything that has served its time is located far away from the place where the owner of the dwelling sleeps and eats.
This order can only maintain a badger, but other animals like foxes or raccoon dogs love to live in that order. Therefore, they are asked to visit the diligent owner. Nothing, badger host is hospitable, albeit strict. Let live, but on condition that guests will observe the established procedure of hygiene.
And if annoyed, then put them a badger. And the zealous owner is not ready to accept every animal: wild cats, ferrets and martens enter the badger burrow. Therefore, do not believe the stories that a fox can take a badger hole against his will.
Having invested so much labor in its arrangement, it will tear anyone who tries to drive him out.
Despite the fact that badgers live in colonies, each occupies its own food plot on the ground. Neighbors of the border are respected and do not enter foreign territory. In the summer months, if there is enough feed, then this area is limited to several hectares. Favorite area of such an animal as a badger is a place near water bodies.
Badgers are animals that form strong and friendly families, where everyone performs his duties. Mummy badger is committed to taking care of the offspring. In the spring season, from three to six cubs are born. They are still very helpless and need breast milk. Barsuchyha feeds them until they are three months old. Then, having matured and getting stronger, they can eat the food that adults prefer.
Badgers are very responsible in teaching the young to survive on their own. In small areas near the holes, kids learn to hunt. To do this, adult badgers catch mice, lizards and frogs and bring them to their young.
It can be noted that this form of training is inherent in almost all predators.
Toward the end of the summer badger can independently make forays for food. But parents still control them. In the fall, kids learn to equip their wintering chambers.
They will spend the winter in a burrow with mom, and in the spring they will go into an independent life. Some badger, born before another litter, live separately since autumn.
Looking at a separate part of the forest, they dig holes there and grow roots.
And sometimes they find a place among the homes of other badgers, making a house with separate exits. The most important thing is to have a free site nearby to search for food.
The dwelling of the European badger is of completely different sizes.
The largest badger found was more like ancient English castles. Because, had over 100 entrances, a huge number of rooms and very long tunnels. The clan consisting of 20 badgers lived in this castle. By nature, badgers spend about half of their lives in a state of sleep.
The animal belongs to the carnivorous mammal of the weasel family. His family includes an otter and an ermine. Badgers usually do not need to drink, as they mostly use juicy earthworms. Only with strong hunger do they eat the badgers with mice, beetles, toads, rats, and even cereals.
Hunting and nutrition
In general, badgers are rather talented hunters. In one way, they are able to catch more than 70 of their victims. The food they have is quite moderate, they eat badgers little by little. Only closer to the fall, badgers stock up on fat, so that they have a power source during their winter sleep. This is the only representative of the family of mustelids, hibernating. For a badger, hibernation is the first thing in the snowy cold. Badger in the spring gets slender forms and actively begins the new season.
As a rule, in relation to humans, badgers are not aggressive. The badger in the photo is always calm. For them, it is preferable to avoid contact, hiding in a hole. But do not specifically anger the badger, as he may stand up for himself.
Under the tail of a badger there are special glands that secrete a rather odorous substance called musk. Thanks to him, the badger marks its territory. Also, it is used to determine clan affiliation.
In the case of a long absence in its hole, the smell may disappear. In this case, the animal runs the risk of being left without its family.
Badgers have their own vocabulary, which consists of sixteen different sounds. Mating in this species of animals can occur at any time of the year.
Unfortunately, due to the high mortality, only a small part lives to its first anniversary.
A huge part of badgers dies on the roads under the wheels of American cars. Despite the shooting, their number is constantly growing. Such a tough measure is caused by the suspicion that badgers are carriers of bovine tuberculosis.
The habitat of the badger is very extensive. It is known that over two million years ago from China, the badger fell into Europe.