Dig This: American Badgers Are Digging Machines

The American badger is an always present but not often seen animal across Will County and much of Illinois. They are mostly nocturnal, and they spend much of the winter hidden away in their dens.

An American badger. (Photo via Shutterstock)

Badgers are related to weasels. Like weasels, they are good at digging. They use their digging skills both to hunt for food and to dig burrows and dens for sleeping.

Here’s more information about these fascinating creatures.

Fun Facts

  • American badgers have mostly brown or grayish-brown fur. They have fat bodies with short legs.

  • Badgers can easily be identified by their facial markings. They have a white stripe that extends from their nose up their head. They also have white markings around their cheeks and ears.

  • Male badgers are bigger than females. In general, badgers weigh between 8 pounds and 26 pounds and are between 20 inches and 25 inches long.

  • Badgers are built for digging. Their front feet have claws that can be as long as 2 inches. These front paws are also partially webbed, which helps them scoop dirt. They have very strong muscles in their necks and shoulders that help them dig quickly.

  • They are called American badgers because they are native to North America. They live across parts of the United States, Mexico and Canada. In the U.S., badgers live mainly in the plains states and western parts of the country.

  • These animals live in open, grassy areas, such as fields, pastures and meadows. In Illinois, there isn’t as much open grassland as there once was, so they sometimes live in cemeteries, vacant fields and ditches.

  • Badgers are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. However, they mainly eat meat from animals. Their main food source is rodents, including mice, ground squirrels and voles. They also eat snakes, toads, birds and fish, and plant foods such as corn, fruit and seeds. Badgers also eat the carcasses of dead animals, which are called carrion.

  • Many animals that hunt other animals chase their prey over land, but badgers catch their prey by digging into burrows and tunnels. They are known to hunt with coyotes because they are able to work together to catch more rodents. The badgers can dig into the ground to push the rodents out, and then the coyotes use their speed to catch the fleeing animals.

____________


Follow Willy's Wilderness on Facebook for more kid-friendly nature stories and activities.