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Location, Habitat and Diet

American badgers live in the Northern and Western United States, but can be found as far north as southern Canada and as far south as Baja Mexico. They spend much of their time digging the complex underground burrows in which they live. Although it is commonly believed that they hibernate in the winter, this is not exactly true. Badgers do sleep more in the winter than in the warmer months, but they do not actually hibernate.

Badgers are omnivores and excellent hunters. Very few animals that live underground are safe from badgers' predatory skills. Badgers have been known to block the exits of their prey's burrow before going in after them. They also have been observed teaming up with coyotes to form a kind of hunting partnership. When the prey burrows underground, the badger digs after it; when the prey emerges from its burrow and runs on the surface, it is pursued by the coyote. Badgers have few natural predators.


Size and Description

Adult American badgers weigh an average of about 7 pounds. They have wide, short bodies, short and stocky legs, long, thick fur, and distinct markings on their faces. Their coats are grayish-yellow on their upper body and creamy white on their underbellies.


Special Adaptations

The most notable adaptation of badgers is their long, strong, sharp front claws that are used for digging and self-defense. Its front legs are very strong and can move very quickly. Their loose skin makes it easier to squeeze into burrows and maneuver underground, in addition to making it harder for predators to grasp and hold on to them. Badgers are not only fast diggers, but they can run fast as well. They will fiercely defend themselves and their young, often fending off animals larger than themselves.


Reproduction

The reproductive cycle of American badgers is unique. Badgers mate in the summer and fall. Fertilization takes place at that time, but embryos remain in a dormant state for several weeks. Embryos finally implant in the winter, usually sometime between December and February. After a 6 week gestation period, the female gives birth to 1-5 cubs. They typically stay in the burrow for 5 to 6 weeks and strike out on their own toward the end of summer.


Other Facts

Badgers are rarely trapped by humans because their fur is not very valuable. They are more beneficial to people alive because they help control the rodent population.

 
Photographer: Dan Bannister
    Classification
    Kingdom: Phylum: Class: Order: Family: Genus: Species: Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Mustelidae Taxidea taxus
           
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