December 15, 2015
Badgers live underground in setts which they inherit from previous generations; some can even be over a hundred years old. They’ll continue to clean, maintain, improve, and develop these dwellings as they see fit, (no town council permission required), and can often house an elaborate tunnel network which connect numerous sleeping and breeding chambers. The world record for the largest badger sett goes to our very own European badger, Meles meles, which involved a sett composed of 50 chambers, 879 metres of interlinking tunnels, and an astonishing 178 entrances! Being extremely experienced underground dwellers, they even know a thing or two about water drainage, and you’ll find that 9/10 setts are situated on slanted ground; maybe this once lead the good folk of Yorkshire to allegedly believe that the legs of a badger were uneven on one side so they could easily run alongside hills!
This elusive relative of the weasel mostly likes to reside in woodland, especially if there are bluebell shoots to eat in early spring, but like ourselves, being omnivores, they’re also partial to something slightly more substantial to go with their greens, so what’s really ideal is to have a woodland sett which backs on to fields: here, with a multitude of entrance holes, they can capitalise on all there is to offer; including a freshly ploughed field where they can spend their nights dining on hundreds of earthworms.
Unlike its African cousin, the Honey Badger, Meles meles isn’t a fearsome lunatic, and although the red fox will show him some well deserved respect, (have you seen those claws!), it has been known for foxes, and even rabbits, to share the unused quarters of a well developed badger sett – although the rabbit might just want to make itself scares if Mr Badger runs out of worms to eat.
Photo © Harry Miller
‘There’s no security, or peace except underground. No, up and out of doors is good enough to roam about and get one’s living in; but underground to come back to at last–that’s my idea of HOME’.
(Thoughts from Mr Badger in Kenneth Grahame’s enchanting novel: ‘The Wind in the Willows’).
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