10 badger facts

Following news that the government has relaxed future badger culling restrictions in the UK, here's our top 10 badger facts. 




1. How long have badgers lived in Britain?


Paleontological evidence shows that badgers have been the British Isles for at least 250,000 years.

2. How many badgers are there in the UK?

A survey published by DEFRA found 72,000 social groups of badgers in England and Wales. Other estimates suggest the population may be 250,000-400,000 individuals in the whole of the UK. The UK has a quarter of the global population of the species.

3. How big is a social group of badgers?

This usually comprises an extended family of anything from 3-14 individuals. A male badger is called a boar and a female a sow.

4. What do badgers eat?

Badgers are omnivores eating worms, insects, fruits, roots, birds’ eggs and small mammals – from mice to hedgehogs. The main food is worms and they can eat up to 200 a night.

5. Does the badger have any natural predators?

Not in the UK though in continental Europe bears and wolves may eat badger cubs. Some 45,000-50,000 badgers are killed on Britain’s roads every year.

6. Where do badgers live?

Badgers live in a variety of lowland habitats, mostly in or near woodlands with access to streams and open grassland. They hide by day in extensive burrows called setts.

7. Why are badgers being culled?

The government has licensed the culling of badgers to test whether the free-shooting of badgers is an effective culling method in preventing the spread of bovine tuberculosis (Btb) in cattle. A badger culling trial between 1998-2005 found that culling badgers within a controlled area could reduce the incidences of Btb in cattle.

8. How are the badgers culled?

In the scientific trial, 11,000 badgers were trapped in cages and killed over a seven year period in specific locations. To save money, the current badger cull relies on marksmen shooting the animals.

9. Does everyone agree that culling badgers will reduce Bovine tuberculosis (TB)?

No. Many of the scientists involved in the badger culling trial have expressed concern that shooting badgers rather than trapping is not effective and is inhumane. The government and many farmers claim that culling is having a positive effect on the spread of TB.

10. How is the badger portrayed in popular culture?


In literature, the badger is both hero and villain. For example, in Beatrix Potter’s extensive works, the figure of Tommy Brock is an enemy of Peter Rabbit. However, Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, Badger is a wise and respected leader of the woodland community.