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All Things Badgers
Information and pictures on Badgers.
Educational, Zoological, and Classification info.

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Badger is the common name for any animal of three subfamilies, which belong to the family Mustelidae: the same mammal family as the ferrets, the weasels, the otters, and several other types of carnivore. There are eight species of badger, in three subfamilies: Melinae (the Eurasian badgers), Mellivorinae, (the Ratel or honey badger), and Taxideinae (the American badger). The Asiatic stink badgers of the genus Mydaus were formerly included in the Melinae, but recent genetic evidence indicates that these are actually Old World relatives of the skunks (family Mephitidae). Typical badgers (Meles, Arctonyx, Taxidea and Mellivora species) are short-legged and "heavy-set". The lower jaw is articulated to the upper, by means of a transverse condyle firmly locked into a long cavity of the cranium, so that dislocation of the jaw is all but impossible. This enables the badger to maintain its hold with the utmost tenacity.

Name
The name badger is possibly derived from the word badge because of the marks on the head, or it may be identical with the term noted below: the French word blaireau being used in both Badgers senses. An older term for "badger" is brock (Old English brocc), a Celtic loanword (Gaelic broc, Welsh broch, from Proto-Celtic *brokko). The Proto-Germanic term was *şahsu- (German Dachs), likely from the PIE root *tek' "to construct," so that the badger would have been named after its digging of setts (tunnels).

The collective name for a group of badgers is a cete or a clan.

Classification

  •  Family Mustelidae
    • (Subfamily Lutrinae: otters)
    • Subfamily Melinae
      • Hog Badger, Arctonyx collaris|
      • Burmese Ferret Badger, Melogale personata
      • Oriental Ferret Badger, Melogale orientalis
      • Chinese Ferret Badger, Melogale moschata
      • Everett's Ferret Badger, Melogale everetti
      • Eurasian Badger, Meles meles
    • Subfamily Mellivorinae
      • Ratel or Honey Badger, Mellivora capensis
    • Subfamily Taxideinae:
      • Chamitataxus avitus
      • Pliotaxidea nevadensis
      • Pliotaxidea garberi
      • American Badger, Taxidea taxus
    • (Subfamily Mustelinae: weasels, martens, polecats and allies)
  • Family Mephitidae
    • Indonesian or Javan Stink Badger (Teledu), Mydaus javanensis
    • Palawan Stink Badger, Mydaus marchei
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Subfamily: Melinae
Mellivorinae
Taxidiinae
Genera
Arctonyx
Melogale
Meles
Mellivora
Taxidea
 

Behavior
BadgersThe behavior of badgers differs based on family. Some are solitary, moving from home to home, while others are known to form clans of  up to 15. Badgers are fierce animals and will protect themselves and their young at all costs. Badgers are capable of fighting off much larger animals such as wolves, coyotes and bears.

Habitat
Badgers generally live below ground, in burrows called setts. The setts house colonies of up to around a dozen badgers, and can extend as deep as 80 feet underground. Badgers are most common in (deciduous) wooded habitats, which provide plenty of cover. Hedgerows may also provide adequate cover, but coniferous woodland is rarely suitable.

Diet
North American Badgers are carnivorous and prey predominantly on pocket gophers (Geomyidae), ground squirrels (Spermophilus), moles (Talpidae), marmots (Marmota), prairie dogs (Cynomys), woodrats (Neotoma), kangaroo rats (Dipodomys), deer mice (Peromyscus), and voles (Microtus). They also prey on ground Badgers nesting birds (such as bank swallow (sand martin) Riparia riparia and burrowing owl Athene cunicularia), lizards, amphibians, carrion, fish, hibernating skunks (Mephitis and Spilogale), insects, including bees and honeycomb, and some plant foods, such as corn (maize, Zea mais), peas, green beans, fungi, and sunflower seeds (Helianthus). Unlike many carnivores that stalk their prey in open country, badgers catch most of their food by digging. They can tunnel after ground dwelling rodents with amazing speed. They have been known to cache food.

The honey badger consumes honey, porcupines and even venomous snakes (such as the puff adder). They will climb trees to gain access to honey from bee's nests.

Badgers have been known to attack the young of certain canines.

The diet of the Eurasian badger consists largely of earthworms, insects, and grubs. They also eat small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds as well as cereals, roots and fruit.

Badgers and humans
Badgers are listed in the Berne Convention (Appendix III), but are not otherwise the subject of any international treaty or legislation. Badgers are hunted in many countries, either as a perceived pest, or for sport. Many badger setts in Europe were gassed during the 1960s and 1970s to control rabies. Gassing was also practiced in Badgers the UK until the 1980s to control the spread of bovine TB. Badgers are protected in the UK by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. (An exemption allowing fox hunters to loosely block setts to prevent chased foxes escaping into them was brought to an end with the passage of the Hunting Act 2004). Badgers may not be killed, nor their setts interfered with, except on license from the government, with an exception permitting the killing of badgers in the attempt to eradicate bovine tuberculosis.

Badger-baiting is a blood sport outlawed in the United Kingdom by the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835.

The dachshund dog breed has a history with badgers; "dachs" is the German word for badger, and dachshunds were originally bred to be badger hounds.

Badgers are popular in English language fiction. Many badger characters are featured in author Brian Jacques' Redwall series, most often falling under the title of Badger Lord or Badger Mother. One such badger contains 'Brock' in his name. Other stories featuring badgers include The Boy Who Talked to Badgers (1975 movie), The Tale of Mr. Tod, The Wind in the Willows, The Once and Future King, The Animals of Farthing Wood, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Book of Merlyn, and The Chronicles of Narnia. In the Harry Potter series, one of the four Houses, Hufflepuff, is symbolized by a badger. The character Frances in Russell Hoban's series of children's books is a badger. They also appear prominently in two volumes of Erin Hunter's Warriors: The New Prophecy series.

The most prominent poem on the badger is from the Romantic period's John Clare. "Badger" describes a badger hunt, complete with badger-baiting, and treats the badger as a noble creature who dies at the end.

Badger hair is used to make quality shaving brushes.

Urban legends
British forces were said to have released man-eating badgers in the vicinity of Basra, Iraq following the 2003 coalition invasion. This allegation has been denied by the British, and local scientists agree that the animals, Ratels, also known as Honey Badgers, are native to the area.

Popular culture
A Badger is a terrorist in the slang talk of the Canadian Military, as a Tango is for the US Military.

The Badger is the state animal of Wisconsin. Wisconsin earned its nickname the Badger State because early miners looked like badgers coming out of holes.

BadgersToday, Bucky Badger is the beloved mascot of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Brock University of St. Catharines, Badgers Ontario also has the badger as its mascot.

Many Redwall stories have Badger lords in them. The badgers rule a mountain fortress called Salamandastron.

Cyclist Bernard Hinault was nicknamed "The Badger".

Bob Johnson (ice hockey), 1990 coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, was often dubbed "Badger Bob."

Bodger and Badger, children's Television show on the BBC

In the Rare game Viva Pinata, the badger pinata is called a Badgecicle.

The badger is the mascot for the Hufflepuff house in Harry Potter.

Badger is a totem animal of Italian singer Eduardo Borsuci, currently frontman of the band Eduardo Borsuci in Optima Forma.

Badger is the NATO codename for the USSR TU-16 jet bomber.

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