This article will answer the question what do badgers eat. We will also show you some cool facts about badgers that will surely surprise you.
Who doesn’t love badgers? They are among the cutest and most recognizable creatures in the animal kingdom. They are so iconic that countries like Great Britain consider them a part of their National Heritage.
But while these creatures are fascinating, they are also shrouded in mystery; especially when it comes to their diet. “Do badgers eat snakes?” “Do badgers eat cats?” Those are some of the questions I get from people.
And it’s crucial for us to know the answer to these questions because badgers are an essential part of our ecosystem and some us want to keep them as pets. Knowing what badgers eat will help us understand and take care of these creatures better.
What are badgers?
Badgers, from the family Mustelidae, are short-legged, omnivorous mammals. They include otters, polecats, wolverines, and weasels. Badgers belong to Canoidea or Caniformia, a suborder of carnivorous mammals.
11 species of badgers are categorized in the following subfamilies; Taxideinae (the American badger), Melinae (Eurasian badgers), and Mellivorinae (the ratel or honey badger).
The genus Mydaus, which includes the Asiatic stink badgers, belonged to the subfamily Melinae; until recent genetic studies prove that these mammals are actually from the skunk family, thus putting them in the family Mephitidae.
Mephitidae includes the genera Taxidea, Arctonyx, Meles, Melogale, and Mellivora. The mandibular condoyle of these badgers connect the long cavities in their skulls, providing jaw dislocation resistance as well as boosting the bite grip strength. It also reduces jaw movement, or side to side sliding.
Badgers have black faces with distinctive white-colored marks. They have grey bodies trapped with light stripes and bands from head to tail. They have black tails and white bellies.
Badgers have short, wide bodies and stunted legs used for digging. They have long, weasel-like heads with tiny ears. Depending on the species, the badger’s tail may vary in length. For instance, the stink badger (Mydaus) has an extremely short tail whereas the tail of the ferret badger (Melogale) can be around 18 to 20 inches (46 to 51 cm) long, depending on its age.
The European badgers are among the largest of its kind while the American badger, stink badger, and hog badger are usually a bit smaller and lighter. The honey badger is small, while ferret badger is the smallest among its kind, weighing only 9 to 11 kg (20 to 24 lb).
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What Do Badgers Eat?
Badgers are omnivores and will consume anything edible.
The badger’s diet is mainly composed of earthworms (80% of the food they eat). They can eat hundreds of worms in 24 hours. But since they are omnivorous, they also eat fruits, insects, eggs, bulbs, etc.
Their diet many also include insects and slugs. They have keen sense of smell and very sharp claws that can dig out nourishments from underneath the ground.
Badgers love fruits including pears, apples, elderberries, and plums. You will often find these creatures lurking around people’s gardens. They also eat acorns, seeds, and nuts together with crops such as sweet corn and wheat.
They are also known to consume small animals such as rats, mice, frogs, toads, hedgehogs, and rabbits. Their keen sense of smell and long, sharp claws are well adapted to finding small animals and excavating into nests and burrows of mammals.
Where Do Badgers Find Their Food?
Badgers can look for food anywhere – usually along the countryside and people’s gardens where there is rich vegetation. Badgers will also take advantage of animal meat and carcasses if they’re available. They also raid garbage bins for food scraps.
Do Badgers Eat Hedgehogs?
In the UK, the main predators of hedgehogs are badgers. Since badgers have long claws and thick skin, they are among the many species of animals that can prey on and consume the defensive hedgehogs. If you noticed hedgehogs lurking around your area, then avoid attracting foxes or badgers until the young ones have matured.
What Can I Feed Badgers With?
If there are badgers in your garden, it is because of the food source available in your garden. However, some gardeners may react differently to their presence. Some people think they’re a nuisance because they can mess up a garden by digging up plants, eating vegetables and fruits, and ruining the plot to look for grubs and worms.
However, if you love having these adorable animals in your garden, you can feed them with different types of food. Badgers consume a wide range of food and will likely eat most of what you have prepared for them.
It is best to feed them with their natural diet such as:
- Fruits such as apples, grapes, plums, pears
- Raw peanuts or Brazil nuts (no chocolate or salt)
- Dried dog food (the muesli type)
- Peanut butter sandwiches
How To Feed Badgers
Pile a heap of food on your porch to lure the badgers. Their scavenging and eating habits allow them to sniff out, find and consume food. You can also scatter food all over your lawn or garden.
How Much Should I Feed Them?
Be careful when feeding wild mammals. Do it in such a way that they will not rely on the readily available food source. Feeding a variety of foods irregularly and in small amounts or as a rare treat is recommended, especially during spring and winter.
When it comes to quantities, you can feed a handful of dried food or peanuts and mushy food like grapes for each badger.
What do badgers eat: Don’t Forget Water!
Do not forget water. Always remember to put ground-level fresh water in your garden. This is advisable not only during summer when water is scarce but also during winter when water is frozen.
Now that you know what badgers eat, you can take care of them better. Remember to feed wild badgers sparingly to keep them independent and able to fend for themselves. Should you decide to keep one as a pet, don’t forget to consult a veterinarian for some good advice.