5:40 p.m. - 2006-08-29
Greetings! I hope you've all been enjoying the last few days of August! This weekend I celebrated my superbirthday in the Motherland! My family cooked me up a feast, and I jacked some of the veggies from their garden.
THEN, I drove south to the capital of Wisconsin, the fair city of Madison! (My lovely sister K just started school there this week!) For it was time to party with the princess GH. Check out her new blog right here!
So, in celebration of GH's matriculation at the University of Wisconsin Madison, today we will learn about the American Badger!
Here's a pic from www.museum.utep.edu:
But don't mess with Bucky Badger! They are incredible fighters. Badgers are one of the few animals that can kill and eat a rattlesnake! In fact, there was a "sport" called badger-baiting, where dogs would run down a makeshift burrow to encounter the badger down there. Apparently the goal was for the dog to pull the badger out by the tail. This event was timed, with the goal time being one minute for the dog to pull out the pissed-off weasel. In fact, in Ireland this badger-hunting ability was rewarded with a certificate, called a "Teastas Mor". Until 1968 the Teastas Mor was required by the Irish Kennel Club for all terrier champions! Weird.
In fact, my family was talking about badger-hunting dogs this very weekend. The subject came up because my sister A's boyfriend, TG, had brought over his fuzzy and ferocious miniature schnauzer, "Kung Fu". I need a picture, A! Unfortunately, miniature schnauzers aren't badger-lovers. Those dogs are: airedale, fox, welsh, staffordshire bull and soft-coated wheaten terriers and daschunds.
Badgers range from 17 to 29 inches long, with females being smaller than males. The average weight of a badger is about fifteen pounds. It is interesting that their lower jawbone is fused to the upper, meaning that it cannot be dislocated. These big weasels need sharp teeth for all the hunting they do! Favorite prey includes prairie dogs, ground squirrels, amphibians, voles, and occasionally carrion and bird eggs. Sometimes badgers will bury a carcass for later. I read one story about coyotes and badgers hunting together! Badgers can't see that well, and I guess a coyote will spot a ground squirrel and chase it into it's hole, while the badger follows behind and digs the rodent out. Then they share the meal! Readers, what do you think? Could it be true?
So, the American badger (Taxidea taxus) is joined in the world with seven other species, mostly found in Eurasia. The ferocious honey badger, or ratel, is found in Africa. The european badger is the largest indigneous carnivore in the United Kingdom! An Old English word for badger is "brock". Badger holes are called "setts" and a group of brocks is called a "cete". Cool!
Like groundhogs, badgers don't truly hibernate. In fact, a lot of action happens for female badgers while they're chillin' in their setts.* Even though badger nooky occurred back in September, four months later or so the fertilized eggs are implanted in the females uterus! Then after 60 days gestation, one to five baby badgers are born!
A "fer cute" picture from www.stealthbadger.com:
Baby badgers are about ten inches long, with very soft fur and sealed-shut eyelids. After two months of nursing the babies begin hunting with Mama, and in turn can become sexually active after five to twelve months. Apparently badgers can live 14 years in the wild.
*I couldn't find much info about badger nooky. It seems like the American species is mostly solitary, except for breeding time, and males are most likely polygamous.
In European folklore, apparently a badger's digging paws were considered a lucky totem for women going through childbirth. Here in the United States, the Pueblo Native Americans thought badgers were great healers, and the creature was associated with that tribe's shamans. Badgers are also featured in literature, including the "Redwall" series, "The Wind in the Willows", "the Chronicles of Narnia", and of course represent "Hufflepuff" in the "Harry Potter" series!
In the wild, American badgers do quite well. They have no problems expanding into grassy areas where gophers and prairie dogs roam. Of course they are a nuisance to farmers, and badgers are often poisoned with toxins meant for coyotes. So, there are probably badgers around your favorite wooded areas, but it's most likely you won't see them!