• Mating: Polygamous; implantation is delayed
• Peak Breeding Activity: Summer and early autumn
• Gestation: Approximately six weeks after implantation which occurs between December and February
• Young are Born: March and April
• Litter size: 1 to 5
• Young Leave Parents: Weaned at 8 to 12 weeks, independent at 7 to 9 months
• Number of Litters per Year: 1
• Adult Body Weight: Males are 16 to 24 pounds; females average 14 pounds
• Adult Body Length: 22 to 30 inches
• Life Expectancy: Up to 14 years, but average in wild is 4 to 5 years
• Migration Pattern: Year-round resident, but reduced activity in winter
• Typical Foods: Small rodents including ground squirrels and mice, amphibians, reptiles, small birds, eggs, and invertebrates
• Ohio Status: Species of Concern
Like their close relative, the striped skunk, badgers have a white stripe that extends back over the head from the nose. They have white fur around their eyes and black cheek patches, or “badges,” for which they are named. The rest of the body is a shaggy mix of silvery gray, black, and buff colors and the feet are black. It is a stocky animal with a flattened body and short legs which keep it close to the ground. The badger’s toes are webbed and its claws may be up to two inches long; useful adaptations for a life of burrowing and digging.
Habitat and Habits
Badgers are a grassland species, specifically favoring habitats with short grass, such as fields and pastures. The most obvious signs of badgers are their dens. The burrow entrance looks like a very large groundhog hole surrounded by a pile of displaced soil. The badger’s excellent senses of smell and hearing help it to locate prey that lives below the ground. When it finds something, it digs rapidly into the ground with its strong forelimbs and captures its prey. Nictitating eyelids, which are transparent covers over the eyes, protect the badger’s vision from being damaged by flying soil.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Badgers usually remain solitary except during the mating season which occurs in the summer and early autumn. Though mating occurs earlier, implantation of the fertilized egg is delayed until some time between December and February. The young are born in a grass lined, underground nest. They are lightly furred and blind at birth. They remain with their mother until late fall, another five or six months, when the family disperses.