European Badger (Meles meles)
These are interesting reads for background information. They are not a reading list for Year 2 though!
Interesting exploration of Badger Baiting accessible for Primary children.
The general hue of its fur is grey above and black on the under parts with a distinctive black and white striped face and white-tipped ears. European badgers are around 70 cm long with a tail of about 20 cm and weigh 10 kg on average, but weights can vary enormously. Badgers do not hibernate, although in areas with cold winter climates they may become torpid for two or so days at a time having put on fat in the autumn to help them get through the winter months
The badger is a stocky animal, being about 750mm in length (from head to tail), with a 150mm tail, once fully grown. A badger can have a height of up to about 300mm high at the shoulder. The weight of an adult badger varies throughout the year - depending on how much fat it has laid down for the winter months. In spring an adult badger will have an average weight of 8 to 9 kg, rising to 11 to 12 kg in autumn. Occasionally individual specimens do weigh more than this, but these are generally the exception rather than the rule. Also, in territories which provide a poor food supply for the badgers, weights may be less than this. In addition, adult males will generally tend to be about 1 kg heavier than females of the same age; and lactating females will be as much as 1 kg less than non-lactating females.
Most badgers have a characteristic black and white striped face with small white-tipped ears and grey body, though their fur can become stained by the local soil. The body appears grey, with black fur on on its legs. In windy conditions, the fur may blow around in the wind, revealing the lighter underfur on the body. However, the colour of each hair varies on close inspection, and is not always grey. A few individuals are albino (creamy or off-white), and there are small populations of reddish/ginger (Erythristic) badgers in certain areas of Britain. Albino and Erythristic badgers have a harmless genetic difference to other badgers, but are otherwise exactly the same type of badger.
Badgers live for up to 15 years (average 3 years) in the wild, and up to 19 years in captivity. If they survive their first year, the most common cause of death is by road traffic
Badgers are nocturnal and spend the day in their setts, or extensive networks of tunnels dug in well-drained ground (or sometimes beneath buildings or roads). Setts give shelter from the weather and predators The badger is also a very tidy animal and spends a lot of time transporting grass, straw, moss or bracken to and from its sleeping chamber deep in the sett. Setts are handed down like family houses from generation to generation, and the badger uses the same sett year after year.
Badgers prefer grazed pasture and woodland, which have high numbers of earthworms exposed, and dislike clay soil, which is difficult to dig even with their powerful claws. In urban areas, some badgers scavenge food from bins and gardens.
pasture and woodland
heavy clay soils
The badger is also a very tidy animal and spends a lot of time transporting grass, straw, moss or bracken to and from its sleeping chamber deep in the sett. Setts are handed down like family houses from generation to generation, and the badger uses the same sett year after year.
omnivorous and insectivorous; most of their diet consists of earthworms, although they also eat insects, spiders, scorpions, small mammals, eggs, young birds, reptiles, berries, roots, bulbs, nuts, fruit. Badgers also dig up the nests of wasps and bumblebees in order to eat the larvae. Badgers will eat carrion.
In Japanese folklore, badger is a wild creature that sometimes appears as a mischievous being, able to turn itself into different shapes, including that of humans. In one favorite tale, a badger visits a Buddhist temple and then tries to hide himself by turning into a teakettle. In this tale, the badger helps the temple priest; badgers in other stories are sometimes evil
Ten miles travelling a night
You can tell by its appearance that the badger is a digger. The body is wedge-shaped and is carried on short but immensely strong legs - excellent for working in confined spaces. The muscles of the forelimbs and neck are particularly well developed. Digging is targeted at enlarging and improving its sett (this consists of several chambers where the badger sleeps and breeds). When enlarging a tunnel a badger will loosen the earth with rapid strokes of its forelimbs, and then use its claws as rakes. Earth and stones may be ejected forcefully from the exit hole of a sett when a badger is digging! Indeed some of these stones may be quite large; and there may even be claw marks apparent on the surface of softer stones, such as some sandstones and chalks.