These elusive and beloved mammals, native to most of Europe, are named from the French word ‘becheur’, meaning ‘digger’. This is a fitting description considering their creation of large, underground tunnels, or setts, which contain nest chambers, toilet spaces and various entrances. These setts grow larger and more complex with each generation, resulting in some tunnel systems which are centuries old. Badgers are nocturnal and eat a varied diet of plants and small invertebrates, including earthworms, which they consume by the hundreds each night.
In Britain, badgers dwell in a mosaic of environments, from woodlands to hedgerows, to open fields- their main requirement being a well-drained or sandy soil which is better for digging. This enduring species has faced a range of threats, including culling by game keepers in the 19th century, declines due to pesticide use, dangers and habitat loss from changing environments, and now recent plans to cull badgers once again.
“People come—they stay for a while, they flourish, they build—and they go. It is their way. But we remain. There were badgers here, I’ve been told, long before that same city ever came to be. And now there are badgers here again. We are an enduring lot, and we may move out for a time, but we wait, and are patient, and back we come. And so it will ever be.” – Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows