Badgers: get to know these beloved countryside creatures

What do you think of when you picture the British countryside? If you asked me, I’d say rolling hills and a babbling brook. The wind whistling through the trees and the rustle of leaves underfoot. But, of course, there’s something missing from this picture. Our beautiful wildlife.

One of the most iconic animals you’ll find in the UK, and one particularly close to my heart, is the badger. Here are three facts you may not know about the captivating creatures. 

1. Badgers warn other creatures with just their faces

    Surprisingly, unique black and white facial markings don’t only mean that badgers can recognise each other, they are also thought to be a warning to predators.

    Their remarkable pattern, with the contrast of colours, is what’s known as an aposematic character. Although adult badgers have no natural predators in the UK, their markings warn other animals they are not to be messed with. 

    Badger in grass

    2. Badgers have up to five cubs per litter, but only one litter a year

    When badgers mate, a process called delayed implantation takes place. Although badgers will mate any time after their cubs are born, the fertilised egg only implants the following December. Cubs are then typically born between February and May, though there are exceptions.

    The annual litter can be made up of between one and five cubs who, born without their trademark stripes, are very light silver in colour.

    Badger in plants

    3. Earthworms make up 60% of the badger diet

    It’s true. Remarkably, an adult badger can eat hundreds of earthworms over the course of a night.

    When conditions change however, so does their appetite. Slugs and snails become a delicacy as does soft fruit like fallen blackberries.

    Badgers are persecuted by cruel sports

    Tragically, badgers are still injured and killed every year in the name of ‘sport’.

    1. Badger baiting

      Although illegal for almost 190 years, badger baiting still goes on to this day. Only this morning, I received correspondence from a supporter who had some vital intelligence on this very subject. Scared and cornered in their setts, badgers are set upon by dogs. A traumatic fight ensues which often ends in the sad demise of the badger and injuries to the dogs.

      2. Sett-blocking

        We all know about the smokescreen of ‘trail’ hunting. But if trails were actually laid, why would badger setts still be blocked? They are left to suffocate and die in order to prevent foxes escaping the hounds.

        The reality is that terrier men go out the day before or very early on the day of the hunt and block setts. This is to stop the fox escaping into it and ruining the chase. If the fox does find an open badger sett, terrier men often dig the fox out or send dogs down to flush the fox. 

        Tampering with a badger sett is illegal, and yet the cruelty continues. Enough is enough. This is totally unjust and must end.

        Badger emerging from den

        Truly, badgers are facing threats from all sides; in addition to the above, they are also facing a government cull, as a result of which 200,000 badgers have been killed since 2013.

        I feel outraged that animals are still being persecuted in the name of ‘sport’. Why haven’t these outdated practices been consigned to the history books where they belong? And I’m sure you feel the same.

        That, however, is why the League is continuing to work towards a kinder, more compassionate future. With you by our side, we continue to strive to end this cruelty. To protect the badgers from these heinous crimes. To contribute to a future where cruelty to animals in the name of ‘sport’ is a thing of the past.

        Together, we make a difference. But we could always do that bit more. See below for just three ways you could help to protect the badger.

        1. Report any suspicious activity to Animal Crimewatch 

          Any reports of the above cruelty will be gratefully received by our supporter-funded Animal Crimewatch team. Accumulating intelligence is vital in order for our professional Investigators to take further action.

          Go there now

          2. Purchase a badger key ring 

            Proceeds from our ethical gift range mean that wildlife can seek refuge on the League’s Wildlife Reserves. These truly are a safe haven for animals and can only continue to provide sanctuary with the support of people like you.

            Go there now

            3. Join one of our Supporter Groups 

              You will be able to spread our message far and wide. Leafletting, contacting local politicians and media, and running fundraising initiatives for the League are just a few ways you could stand up for animals. And all of this could be happening in an area near you.

              Go there now

              Badgers. Majestic yet suffering. What will you do to be their voice?

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