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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

American badger
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Subfamily: Melinae



Badgers, occasionally referred to as brocks, are short-legged, heavy-set omnivores in the weasel family, Mustelidae. There are eight species of badger, in three subfamilies (see links in species list below): Melinae (badgers of Europe and Asia), 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 and Mustelidae, but recent genetic evidence[citation needed] indicates that these are actually closer relatives of the skunks, now often put with them in the separate family Mephitidae.

Badgers include the species in the genera Meles, Arctonyx, Taxidea and Mellivora species. Their 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, but limits its jaw movement to hingeing open and shut, or sliding from side to side without the twisting movement possible for the jaws of most mammals.



The word badger originally applied to the European Badger (Meles meles). Its derivation is uncertain. It possibly comes from the French word blaireau: "corn-hoarder", or from the French word bêcheur (digger), introduced during William the Conqueror's reign.[1] The Oxford English Dictionary, however, states that the most likely derivation is from badge + -ard, referring to the white mark borne like a badge on its forehead.[2]

The less common name brock (Old English: brocc), (Scots: brock) is a Celtic loanword (cf. Gaelic broc and Welsh broch, from Proto-Celtic *brokko) meaning grey.[2] The Proto-Germanic term was *þahsu- (cf. German Dachs, Dutch das, Norwegian svin-toks; Early Modern English: dasse), probably from the PIE root *tek'- "to construct," so that the badger would have been named after its digging of setts (tunnels).

A male badger is a boar, a female a sow and a young badger is a cub. A collective name suggested for a group of badgers is a cete,[3] but badger colonies are more often called clans. Badger dens are called setts.


American badger.

The following list shows where the various badger species are placed in the Mustelidae classification.


Meles meles (L.) is found in Ireland and Great Britain[5]and most of Europe as far as southern Scandinavia.[6]


The behavior of badgers differs by family, but all shelter underground, living in burrows called setts which may be very extensive. Some are solitary, moving from home to home, while others are known to form clans. Clan size is variable from 2 to 15. Badgers can be 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. Badgers can run or gallop at up to 25–30 kilometres per hour (16–19 mph) for short periods of time.

North American Badgers (Taxidea taxus) and Coyotes (Canis latrans) have been seen hunting together, in a cooperative fashion.[7]


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 roots and fruit.[8][9]

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

American Badgers are fossorial carnivores. 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.

In North America, coyotes sometimes eat badgers and vice versa, but the majority of their interactions seem to be mutual or neutral.[10]

Badgers have been known to become intoxicated with alcohol after eating rotting fruit.[11]

Badgers and humans

Eurasian badger.

Hunting badgers is common in many countries. Manipulating the badger population is prohibited in many European countries as badgers are listed in the Berne Convention, but they are not otherwise the subject of any international treaty or legislation.

The blood sport of badger-baiting was outlawed in the United Kingdom by the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835 as well as the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 which makes it a serious offence to kill, injure or take a badger, or to damage or interfere with a sett unless a licence is obtained from a statutory authority. An exemption that allowed 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.

Many badgers in Europe were gassed[citation needed] during the 1960s and 1970s to control rabies. Until the 1980s, gassing was also practised in the UK to control the spread of bovine TB.

A Scandinavian custom is to put eggshells or styrofoam in one's boots when walking through badger territory, as badgers are believed to bite down until they can hear a crunch.[citation needed] 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.[12]

As food

Although rarely eaten today in the United States or the United Kingdom,[13] badger was once one of the main meat sources in the diets of Native Americans and white colonists.[14][15][16][17][18] Badgers were also eaten in Britain during World War II and the 1950s.[15]

In Russia, the consumption of badger meat is still widespread.[19] Badger, along with dog and pork, shish kebabs are cited as a major source of trichinellosis outbreaks in the Altai region of Russia.[19] Consumption of badger meat also occurs in other European countries such as Croatia, where it is used in a variation of the traditional dish of goulash.[20] In contrast to Russia, there are no reports of trichinellosis related to the consumption of badger meat. This is credited to adequate preparation of the meat and good thermal processing of it.[18]

In France, badger meat was used in the preparation of several dishes, such as Blarieur au sang and it was a relatively common ingredient in countryside cuisine.[21] Badger meat was eaten in some parts of Spain until recently as well.[22]

Badger remains a source of food in China, and the meat is freely available in market places.[23][24] Other Asian countries also have traditions of consuming badger meat. In Japan, it is mentioned in folktales where it is regarded as a food for the humble.[25]

Commercial use

Today badgers are commercially raised for their hair, which is harvested to make shaving brushes. Virtually all commercial badger hair comes from mainland China,[citation needed] which supplies knots of hair in three grades to brush makers in both China and Europe. In rural Northern China, badgers multiply to the point of becoming a crop nuisance, and village cooperatives are licensed by the national government to hunt badgers and process their hair. The hair is also used for paint brushes, and was used as a trim on Native American garments.[26] It has been used in some instances as doll hair.[citation needed]

In popular culture

Badger, Rat, Mole, and Toad from The Wind in the Willows.



  1. ^ BBC Natural World, 2008, Badgers: Secrets of the Sett
  2. ^ a b Weiner, E. S. C.; Simpson, J. R. (1989). The Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-861186-2.  Online at (subscription required).
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "The hog-badger is not an edentate: systematics and evolution of the genus Arctonyx (Mammalia: Mustelidae)". Blackwell Publishing. 
  5. ^ Sleeman,D.P. Davenport, J., Cussen.R.E. and Hammond, R.F. 2009. The small-bodied adgers (Meles meles (L.) of Rutland Island, Co. Donegal. Ir. Nat. J. 30: 1 - 6
  6. ^ Brink van den, F.H. 1967. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Britain and Europe. Collins, London
  7. ^ Cahalane VH (1950) Badger-coyote "partnerships." Journal of Mammalogy 31: 354-355
  8. ^ "Badger Ecology: diet". Woodchester Park Badger Research. Central Science Laboratory. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  9. ^ "Diet of the Eurasian badger". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  10. ^ Kiliaan HPL, Mamo C, Paquet PC (1991) A Coyote, Canis latrans, and Badger, Taxidea taxus, interaction near Cypress Hills Provincial Park, Alberta. Canadian Field-Naturalist 105: 122-12
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Dachshund, Dachshunds, Wiener Dog, little hot dog, hotdog dog". Dog Breed Info Center. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  13. ^ "Wonderland: The Man Who Eats Badgers and Other Strange Tales - TV pick of the day for January 23rd, 2008". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  14. ^ "Primary Source documents". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  15. ^ a b "How To Bake A Badger". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  16. ^ "Summary of Trichinellosis Outbreaks (2001-2004)". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  17. ^ "MESO: The first Croatian meat journal, Vol.VII No.1 February 2005". Hrcak. 1 February 2005. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  18. ^ a b "" (PDF). 
  19. ^ a b "Summary of Trichinellosis Outbreaks (2001-2005) - Russia". Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  20. ^ "Sweet delicacy from hunter's kitchen - badger (Melles melles L.) Abstract". Portal of scientific journals of Croatia. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  21. ^ Molinier, Annie ; Molinier, Jean-Claude; d'Hauterives, Benoît Lumeau. (2004). Les cuisines oubliées. Illinois: Editions Sud Ouest. ISBN 978-2879015491.  Parts of it online at
  22. ^ "Badgers in Spain". IberiaNature. Retrieved 2008-11-25. 
  23. ^ English Shaving Shop. "The Olde English Shaving Shop - The English Badger is a protected species". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  24. ^ "Bristle Types and Bloom". Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  25. ^ Radin, Paul. (1946). Folktales of Japan as Told in California - The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 59, No. 233 (Jul. - Sep., 1946), pp. 289-308. Illinois: University of Illinois Press on behalf of American Folklore Society.  Online at (subscription required).
  26. ^ "ADW: Taxidea taxus: Information". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  27. ^ Yoder, Don, Groundhog Day. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003 ISBN 0811700291
  28. ^ "British blamed for Basra badgers". BBC News. 12 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  29. ^ Carney, Mike (12 July 2007). "Brits 'deny' releasing 'giant man-eating' badgers that target Iraqis". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-07-12. 

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also badger






  1. A native or resident of the American state of Wisconsin.


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

This word is found in Ex 25:5; Ex 26:14; Ex 35:7, Ex 35:23; Ex 36:19; Ex 39:34; Num 4:6, etc. The tabernacle was covered with badgers' skins; the shoes of women were also made of them (Ezek 16:10). Our translators seem to have been misled by the similarity in sound of the Hebrew tachash and the Latin taxus, "a badger." The revisers have correctly substituted "seal skins."

The Arabs of the Sinaitic peninsula apply the name tucash to the seals and dugongs which are common in the Red Sea, and the skins of which are largely used as leather and for sandals. Though the badger is common in Palestine, and might occur in the wilderness, its small hide would have been useless as a tent covering. The dugong, very plentiful in the shallow waters on the shores of the Red Sea, is a marine animal from 12 to 30 feet long, something between a whale and a seal, never leaving the water, but very easily caught. It grazes on seaweed, and is known by naturalists as Halicore tabernaculi.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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