The European Badger (Meles meles)
The common English name is derived from the French “bêcheur” meaning “digger”.
Badgers are sometimes seen in the area and if you are lucky you might encounter one on Bepton Down.
The badger’s coat is black, white, grey and brown. It has distinctive facial markings: a large white stripe down the centre of its face with two black stripes on either side followed by two further white stripes. It is stocky and powerful. It marks its home range by latrines situated throughout the territory. It has scent glands under the base of its tail which exude a musky smell.
It is a social animal living in large groups in setts which have many underground passages and chambers and a number of openings. Although classified as carnivorous the European badger is in reality omnivorous and will eat anything from earthworms through to berries and tubers. It is a largely nocturnal animal which will roam widely, especially in winter if the ground is hard, in search of food. The male is known as a boar, the female a sow and the young as cubs. Although they hibernate in northern countries where the winters are harsh they have little need of a winter sleep in England and remain active year round.
Their setts are occasionally shared with foxes or rabbits and both species have been seen near local setts.
Cubs are born blind in early spring. Their eyes open some four weeks later and they begin to explore the outside world at eight weeks of age. They are weaned at twelve weeks but may still suckle occasionally until they are five months old.
Badgers are protected by law: The Badger Act of 1992.