Badgers in Milton Keynes

Badgers belong to the same family as stoats, weasels and otters. These are all animals with musk bearing scent glands under their tails. A Badger's body is wedge shaped and very low to the ground with short powerful legs which are excellent for digging and working in confined spaces.

Unlike a lot of animals, badgers have five toes with long claws. Home is a large underground burrow system called a sett, this consists of a number of entrances with tunnels which can be up to 30 metres long with several sizeable chambers on different levels. Chambers are used for sleeping and breeding, there may also be one used as a latrine. Some setts can be over 200 years old and like a family house are handed down from generation to generation.

Badgers are very tidy housekeepers and spend a lot of time collecting grass, straw and bracken to line the sleeping chambers. Bedding materials is dragged out of the sett to air during the day and is changed frequently.

Cubs are born from mid January to mid March and there are usually two or three in a litter. They are blind for about five weeks and covered in greyish silky white fur and stay under ground until they are about eight weeks old. A family of badgers can consist of several adult males (boars) and females (sows) and one or two litters of cubs.

Badgers are nocturnal and emerge from the setts soon after dusk. They will take their time leaving the sett and will have a good sniff of the air to check for danger.

Before going to forage for food the family may spend some time around the sett. Young cubs enjoy playing with each other and the adults often join in.

When looking for food which mainly consists of earthworms, badgers stay within a territory which can be up to 40-50 hectares (1 hectare equals the size of two football pitches)

They will also eat beetles, small mammals and autumn fruit. They also love peanut butter.

Badgers are also one of the only animals that will dig up and eat the contents of wasp and bees nests.

The dominant boar patrols the territory and scent marks the boundary with droppings, using latrines placed to warn intruders and if necessary will fight with any trespassing badger.

Badgers are habitual and will always use the same paths all their lives to move around their territory, so if a road is built across their path they will continue to use it. This unfortunately means approximately 40,000 badgers are killed by traffic on British roads each year.

In Milton Keynes, with all the green open space and a number of special badger tunnels built underneath roads to allow badgers to cross, our badger families are able to move around the city in relative safety.

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