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A plantigrade quadruped related to the bear, of the genus Meles. It is a clumsy animal, with short, thick legs, and long claws on the fore feet. One species (M. vulgaris) inhabits the north of Europe and Asia, is indolent and sleeps, feeds by night, mostly on vegetables, and is generally very fat. Another species (M. Labradorica) inhabits North America, and is also called the ground-hog. — Webster, 1882

G.W. Brant caught a badger a few days ago in one of his smallest steel traps. The animal was nearly as large as a dog, and although the trap seemed to have but a slight hold on one foot, it held on until the badger was taken. – The Worthington (Minnesota) Advance, December 14, 1876.

An American badger (Taxidea taxus) is credited for stopping Laura Ingalls from sneaking away to Plum Creek’s swimming hole on her own. Garth Williams, however, drew a European badger (Meles meles) for On the Banks of Plum Creek, and Mr. Webster’s 1882 dictionary seems to equate the North American badger with the groundhog. Groundhogs and American badgers may look similar, but in the U.S., groundhogs are grazing members of the rodent family, while badgers are hunting members of the weasel family. The photo at right is of a stuffed (as in taxidermy, not teddy bear) American badger on display in one of the outbuildings at the Depot Museum in De Smet. Please refrain from poking a stick at it.

American badgers are excellent diggers, as all four paws have four shovel-shaped claws. They dig and scoop with the front claws, pushing dirt around and behind them and then out with the back claws. They are mainly carnivores and eat rabbits, birds, worms, squirrels, moles, voles, prairie dogs, rats, mice, birds, and insects – pretty much anything they can dig out or manage to kill. They may bury their prey and return to it to feed but are also known to guard buried food. Badgers also eat nuts, berries, and seeds. While badgers are mainly nocturnal, they’ll hunt during the day if not threatened by people or other animals. They prefer sandy loam or sandy soil where digging is easy. The average badger weighs 15-20 pounds and can be up to 25-30 inches long, not including their tail, with males heavier than females.

Badgers are found west of the Mississippi River in open grassland, fields, and pastures in the U.S. and they typically live alone, except for mothers with young offspring, which leave their mother as soon as they are able to hunt on their own. Badgers are aggressive and can hiss, growl, or flatten their body to intimidate predators. Click HERE to see a badger flattening its body and baring its teeth.

If you see this bumper sticker on wagon, buggy, or car bumper, you’ll know you’ve spotted another Little House fan!


badger (BPC 5; PG)
     digging like a badger (BPC 40)