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Britain's biggest carnivore

Britain's largest remaining carnivore has a fearsome folk reputation (and you should certainly seek help before attempting to approach a hurt badger) but in fact it is a specialist feeder on earthworms.  Each night when they emerge from their burrows (called setts and often impressive excavations) they check the air to work out where in their territory the worms will be emerging from the soil.  In droughts the worms stay underground and the badgers suffer. At such times they turn to other foods - animal and vegetable.   

This love of worms has helped the badger to survive the destruction of most of our woodland.   Earthworms are at highest density in ancient woodland but they are remain in lower numbers when the woods are gone and so can support badgers.

Threats to the badger

The supposed ferocity of the badger lead to the sport of badger baiting in which badgers were dug out to have dogs set on them. The abhorrence with which this is regarded has led to strong legal protection  for this species. Badgers and badger setts are protected from any disturbance. Like all species they are affected by development but there are some ways to mitigate the impact. 

Where to enjoy badgers

Badgers are still found throughout Scotland often in surprising numbers.  Look out for the signs when you are walking in the countryside or even in the town.  These include their neat latrine pits, their distinctive paw prints in mud and scuffles where they have snuffled through the grass.  In this way you can work out how they are using your local area. 

Best of all you may see one of their setts which typically have many large holes with large mounds of excavated spoil outside.  Badgers can be watched here quite legally as long as you take care not to disturb them: be sure to sit downwind and very quietly.  In summer in Scotland they normally emerge in full sunlight so arrive early.  There are public hides at New Lanark and near Aviemore to get you started and the Scottish Wildlife Trust organise public badger watches in the centre of Edinburgh. 

Last updated on Monday 22nd February 2016 at 09:51 AM. Click here to comment on this page