Have you ever been chased by a badger? I have. It happened years ago, in the summer during my college years, when I was working at the Salveson Grain & Cattle Ranch near my little hometown.
Alongside a hay field where we were laboring, there was a prairie trail and apparently I had not noticed the no trespassing sign posted by a resident badger that took offense to my presence and decided to run me off or turn me into a meal, I’m not sure which.
I didn’t stick around, and fortunately, at the time, prior to the rodeo injuries that would come later, I still possessed the ability to travel at light speed and easily got away.
So naturally this morning, when I woke up, I was slightly alarmed when I noticed a brand new badger hole dug in the middle of the ranch yard, and wondered if I’d have to carry a weapon around from then on to beat off a resident attacker.
There I was, standing over the hole at sunrise, inspecting his work, when this thought occurred to me: What do badgers do with all the dirt when they dig a new home in the earth?
Oh sure, there’s dirt around the hole, but it can’t possibly be all of the dirt that would need to come out to make room for a 10-15-pound animal and his family.
That’s when I decided to do a little research, and discovered that the hole I was looking at might not be a home at all but a battleground and a lesson in the facts of life. You see, Mr. Badger might not be taking up residence. He was simply pilfering Mr. Gopher’s residence and probably Mr. Gopher at the same time.
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In fact, at that very moment, Mr. Badger was probably watching me from afar, picking his teeth and patting his fat belly as I pondered and researched the situation.
At any rate, this is what I soon learned about badgers:
Badgers live in underground burrow systems called "setts." On average, about six badgers live in one sett. Although some setts can hold more than twice that amount. And setts can be centuries old, serving as homes for multiple badger generations. That’s the bad news. Meanwhile, these burrows have separate "rooms" for sleeping and for giving birth.
Also, they won't bring food into their sett. Most of their food is on bushes immediately outside their homes. They also won't go to the bathroom in their sett. Instead, they use special communal latrines on the edge of their domain.
It’s also interesting to note that badger species found on the British Isles have been there for at least 250,000 years, but some scientists say they could have been around for as long as 400,000 years.
The average lifespan in the wild is between 4 and 10 years, but some badgers may live up to 14 years. And they have lived up to 26 years in captivity.
Whatever the case, since we use the phrase “to badger someone” to describe an act of irritation, I’m not anticipating having them as a neighbor to be a positive thing.