Large mammal of the weasel family. It has molar teeth of a crushing type adapted to a partly vegetable diet, and short strong legs with long claws suitable for digging. The Eurasian common badgerMeles meles is about 1 m/3 ft long, with long, coarse, greyish hair on the back, and a white face with a broad black stripe along each side. Mainly a woodland animal, it is harmless and nocturnal, and spends the day in a system of burrows called a ‘sett’. Earthworms make up 90% of the badger's diet but it also feeds on roots, a variety of fruits and nuts, insects, mice, and young rabbits.
The Eurasian badger lives for up to 15 years. It mates February to March, and again July to September if the earlier mating has not resulted in fertilization. Implantation of the blastocyst (early embryo) is however delayed until December. Cubs are born January to March, and remain below ground for eight weeks. They remain with the sow at least until autumn.
The American badgerTaxidea taxus is slightly smaller than the Eurasian badger, and lives in open country in North America. Various species of hog badger, ferret badger, and stink badger occur in South and East Asia, the last having the well-developed anal scent glands characteristic of the weasel family.
Between 1989 and 1997 the British badger population increased by 70%. In 1998 the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) announced approval of an experiment suggested by the Krebs report Bovine Tuberculosis in Badgers, in which an estimated 10,000 badgers were culled in an attempt to establish once and for all if badgers do transmit bovine TB to cattle. In designated areas where TB incidence is highest, all badgers were culled (known as proactive culling); in other selected areas badgers were to be culled only if an outbreak of TB were to occur (reactive culling); and in control areas there was to be no culling even in the event of an outbreak. In June 2007, the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB released its final report on these experiments in which it concluded that culling badgers is not useful for the management of bovine TB.
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A nocturnal burrowing mammal of the weasel family ( Mustelidae ). The largest of the eight species is the gregarious Eurasian badger ( Meles...