The American Badger, is a North American Badger, somewhat similar in appearance to the European Badger. Recognized sub-species include: Taxidea taxus jacksoni, found in the western Great Lakes region; on the west coast of Canada and the US; and Taxidea taxus berlandieri, in the south-western US and in northern Mexico.
In Ontario, the badger is found in the southwestern part of the province, mostly close to Lake Erie in Haldimand-Norfolk County, and in northwestern Ontario in the Thunder Bay and Rainy River Districts. There are thought to be 218 individuals in Canada. Protection provided by Ontario's Endangered Species Act, 2007 prohibits actions such as killing, capturing, possessing, and selling or trading this species. Badger dens are protected under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. Nearly all the sites in Ontario where the badger lives are on private land.
This animal prefers dry open areas with deep soils that are easy to dig, such as prairie regions.
The video shows an American Badger digging a burrow. A badger can dig a hole faster than a man with a shovel.
The American Badger has most of the general characteristics common to badgers; stocky and low-slung with short, powerful legs, they are identifiable by their huge foreclaws (measuring up to 5cm in length) and distinctive head markings. Measuring generally between 60 to 75 cm (23.6 to 29.5 inches) in length, males of the species are significantly larger than females (with an average weight of roughly 7 kg (15.5 pounds) for females and up to almost 9 kg (19.8 pounds) for males). Northern subspecies such as T. t. jeffersonii are heavier than the southern subspecies. In the fall, when food is plentiful, adult male badgers can exceed 11.5 kg (25.3 pounds).
Excluding the head, the American Badger is covered with a grizzled, silvery coat of coarse hair or fur. The American Badger's triangular face shows a distinctive black and white pattern, with brown or blackish "badges" marking the cheeks and a white stripe extending from the nose to the base of the head. In the subspecies T. t. berlandieri, the white head stripe extends the full length of the body, to the base of the tail.
The American Badger is a fossorial carnivore. It preys predominantly on pocket gophers, ground squirrels, moles, marmots, prairie dogs, pika, woodrats, kangaroo rats, deer mice and voles, often digging to pursue prey into their dens, and sometimes plugging tunnel entrances with objects. They also prey on ground-nesting birds such as bank swallow or sand martin and burrowing owl, lizards, amphibians, carrion, fish, skunks, insects, including bees and honeycomb and some plant foods such as maize, peas, green beans, mushrooms and other fungi, and sunflower seeds.
They are mainly active at night, but may be active during the day. They do not hibernate, but become less active in winter. A badger may spend much of the winter in cycles of torpor that last around 29 hours. They do emerge from their dens on warmer days.
Badgers sometimes use abandoned burrows of other animals like foxes or animals slightly smaller or bigger. Badgers are normally solitary animals for most of the year, but it is thought that in breeding season they expand their territories to actively seek out mates. Males may breed with more than one female. Mating occurs in the summer, but implantation is delayed (similar to bears) and the young are born in an underground burrow during late winter. Litters consist of one to five offspring.
Although this video was filmed in Yellowstone National Park, it shows a mother badger with 2 kits on the move. When they reach the sagebrush they become almost invisible.
American badgers will sometimes form a symbiotic relationship with Coyotes. Because coyotes are not very effective at digging rodents out of their burrows, they will chase the animals while they are above ground. Badgers on the other hand are not fast runners, but are well-adapted to digging. When hunting together, they effectively leave little escape for prey in the area.
Research: ParksCanada, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Wikipedia
Photo Credits: -wikipedia, -slambo_42 CC=nc-sa-flickr.
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