American Badger (Taxidea taxus)

Description
American badger

Size

  • Is a large weasel, with a body length averaging 75 centimetres (30 inches).
  • Average weight is about seven kilograms (14 pounds).

Appearance

  • Has broad triangular head with short ears and a pointed nose.
  • Body is thick-set, broad, squat and muscular with short powerful legs and a short tail.
  • Front feet are uniquely adapted for digging, with partial webbing between the toes and claws up to five centimetres long.
  • Fur is thick and longer on the sides, forming a fringe that, coupled with loose skin, adds to the flattened appearance and flowing nature as the animal moves.
  • Fur is thick and longer on the sides, forming a fringe that, coupled with loose skin, adds to the flattened appearance and flowing nature as the animal moves.
    • Overall yellowish gray hue with a white stripe starting on the nose and extending back into the shoulders
    • A dark vertical triangular patch, or "badge", behind the eyes surrounded by white or yellowish fur
    • Dark brown colouring on the lower legs, terminating in black at the extremities
Distribution
  • The badger was once common throughout the parkland and grassland regions south of the North Saskatchewan River, but its current distribution has been much reduced.
  • Current range in Alberta extends roughly from the North Saskatchewan River south to the Montana border and from the foothills east to the Saskatchewan border.
  • While distribution south of the North Saskatchewan River has been reduced, some limited expansion into territory north of the river has been documented.
Natural History

Habitat

  • Dens (burrows) are essential to the badger, serving as sites for diurnal (daytime) activity, food storage, birthing, and as the focus for foraging activities.

Food

  • Primary food sources are northern pocket-gophers and Richardson's ground squirrels. Diet can be supplemented by a variety of other prey species, including:
    • Amphibians
    • Birds
    • Eggs
    • Mammals
    • Fish
    • Invertebrates
    • Molluscs
    • Plant material
    • Reptiles
  • Badgers will also eat carrion and cache food items.

When Active

  • Adult badgers hunt primarily at night and remain underground during the day.
  • Juveniles tend to be active during daylight hours.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • Mating is believed to occur in August to September.
  • A natal den is built out of bulky grasses in an expanded chamber. The den usually has one entrance, and a mound twice the size of a day-use den.
  • Two to five young are born in early April.
Conservation and Management

Status

The American badger is classified as Sensitive in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:

Also see the Status of the American badger in Alberta report at:

In a subsequent detailed status assessment, Alberta's Endangered Species Conservation Committee identified the American badger as Data Deficient—a species for which there is not enough current information to determine its status. See information on the Endangered Species Conservation Committee and Data Deficient Species at:

Issues

  • The species is dependent on fluctuating ground squirrel populations and may be declining in some areas of the province.
  • Agricultural activities have probably encroached on badger habitat.
  • Badgers are trapped, shot and poisoned by humans because their diggings are thought to:
    • Cause broken legs in livestock
    • Lead to water loss from irrigation canals
    • Cause damage to vehicles encountering their burrows
    • Cause damage in cemeteries when excavating into graves

Current management

Hunting

The American badger may be hunted, but not trapped, without a licence throughout the province, at all times of the year. See details in the Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations. To view the guide online or to order a printed copy, visit the My Wild Alberta website at:

Trapping

Specific season information is provided in the current Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations. To view the guide online or to order a printed copy, visit the My Wild Alberta website at:

 

Page Information

Updated: May 20, 2014