Animal name: Badger
Habitat: Setts in woodland areas across mainland Scotland
Diet: Earthworms, small mammals, fruits, nuts, seeds and crops
Lifespan: Up to 15 years in the wild
Active: At night, throughout the year
Family: Male is called a boar. Female is called a sow. Babies/young are called cubs
Where do you find badgers?
Despite a significant population size spread across mainland Scotland, the chances of seeing a badger in the wild are slim as they are nocturnal creatures who like to spend their time underground. They are most common in woodland areas.
With their distinctive black and white-striped face and bushy tails, badgers are unlike any other mammals in Scotland.
They thrive on socialising with their own species and like to live in decent-sized, family-like groups in an underground network of tunnels called a sett. They often have more than one sett across their territory.
Though it’s uncommon to see a badger, a sett is easily distinguished by their large, tidy entrances and close-by latrine pits where they do the toilet. That’s right – badgers are toilet-trained wildlife!
You can observe badgers from a safe distance and may be lucky enough to see them emerge from a sett.
Cub season is in January and February but they don’t leave their setts for a few months, meaning the greatest chance of seeing them is in late spring or early summer.
What do they eat?
Badgers are midnight munchers, leaving their setts when the sun goes down to feast on their staple diet of earthworms. That being said, they’ll also happily tuck in to fruit and berries such as brambles as well as nuts, seeds and crops.
They also eat small mammals such as mice, rats and frogs. Their fantastic sense of smell and long claws are a great help in sniffing out and catching a meal.
If food is in short supply, they may venture out in the open during daylight to forage or even enter areas where people are more likely to see them, despite their shyness.
What threats do badgers face?
Although Badger baiting has been illegal in the UK for decades, it is still an alarmingly common activity in Scotland. Badger baiting involves digging a badger out of its sett, where dogs lie in wait to pounce on it and fight to the death. As well as normally resulting in the death of a badger, the dogs involved can sustain horrendous injuries too. We’ve seen instances where dogs have had parts of their face missing due to the injuries caused by a badger as it fights for its life.
If you're concerned about badger baiting keep an eye out for these signs it may be happening in your local area:
- People in rural locations with spades, especially at unusual times such as late at night.
- Terriers wearing locator collars so baiters know where to dig. They may also be wearing chin guards to try and protect them from injury.
- Bigger dogs, such as lurchers, to fight any badgers flushed out by the terriers.
- A ‘crowning down hole’. This is usually lower down the slope from the badger entrance to allow baiters to dig down to the badgers bedding or nesting chamber.
- Sometimes the badger is tied up so you may see rope or discarded leads in the vicinity.
What common problems/reasons lead to badgers being cared by the Scottish SPCA?
Badgers come into our care for a number of reasons including:
- Road traffic accidents
- Out during the day
- Badger baiting
- Trapping (accidental and deliberate) or poisoning
I've come across...
An injured or sick badger
If you come across an injured or sick badger, please contact our helpline on 03000 999 999.
Any baby badger discovered above ground likely needs our help.
Please call our helpline immediately on 03000 999 999.
If you find a dead badger, please contact your local authority to safety remove the body.
You can also report any deceased badgers to Scottish Badgers by filling in the form on their website.
Badger living in my garden
If you have seen or found evidence of a badger living in your garden (such as digging up the lawn) contact your local badger group or Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
How do we help badgers at the National Wildlife Rescue Centre?
Once we rescue a badger, it is brought to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre to be assessed and receive appropriate treatment and rehabilitation with the goal of successfully reintroducing to the wild.
We keep badgers in a dark pen where they have access to an outside area to dig, climb and explore. This aims to replicate their typical environment and provide stimulation during the night. During the day, we minimise disturbances too.
With cubs, we group them together where possible so they socialise and replicate the groups they form in the wild. This also means they can be released together. We hand-rear badger cubs until they are able to forage and get by on their own, at which point we step back and minimise human contact so the badgers can become truly wild.
Both badgers and their setts are protected under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 as amended by the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011.
It is against the law to hunt a wild mammal using a dog except in limited circumstances. This became an offence under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002. See Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill.
Members of the public can report live sightings, road fatalities and setts to Scottish Badgers using the form on their website. This enables the charity to monitor local populations and potentially highlight hotspots in the case of traffic casualties.