The Eurasian Badger

Like the American badgers, Eurasian badgers are excellent diggers. They are found in both Europe and Asia, usually in wooded regions. These badgers are from about 20 to about 32 inches (50 to 80 cm) long, not including the tail, which may be from about 4 1/2 to about 8 inches (11 to 20 cm) long. The upper parts are grayish and the underparts, legs, and feet are black. The head is marked with wide, alternating black and white stripes.

Eurasian badgers are not solitary—many families may live together in a large network of burrows. Although the mainstays of their diet are worms, insects, and young rabbits, they also eat roots, fruit, and seeds. The young, usually two to four, are born in the spring. The hairs of Eurasian badgers are used in making various kinds of brushes.

In England during the early 19th century, Eurasian badgers were used in a cruel sport called "badger baiting." The badgers were put in a barrel or hole, then dogs were pushed in to drag them out. (Thus "to badger" came to mean to tease or harass.) The badgers would fight fiercely, even though in a hopeless situation.

What Goes On in Old World Badger Families?

Old World badgers live together in a group called a clan. Clans are usually made up of about 10 animals, including adults and young. Each clan usually has a few adult males, or boars, a few adult females, or sows, and a few young, called cubs. When the young males are mature, they usually leave to join other clans. Young females usually stay with their birth clans.

Old World badgers use the scent from their musk glands to recognize each other. Each badger’s musk smells a bit different. When all the badgers in a clan put their musk on one another, their scents get mixed together. As a result, each clan has its own unique scent. Each clan member bears the scent of the clan as well as its own scent. That is how Old World badgers recognize members of their own clan.

Where in the World Do Badgers and Other Mustelids Live?

Badgers can be found in Asia, Europe, and North America.

American badgers live in southwestern Canada, in the United States from the West Coast to the Midwest, and south to central Mexico. They make their homes mostly in dry country or grasslands with few trees.

Old World badgers live throughout Europe and in northern Asia. Old World badgers prefer to live in forested areas.

Ferret badgers, hog badgers, and stink badgers live in the mountains and forests of southeastern Asia. And, although not a true badger, a similar mustelid that is known as the ratel, or honey badger, can be found in Africa.