Badger Taxidea taxus
Bulky, flat-bodied prairie predator
Basic description: Stout member of the weasel familywith short-legs, a stubby tail, a black-and-white patterned rectangular face, and grizzled gray-brown fur.
Length: Body- 25-30 in. Tail– 5-7 in.
Weight: usually 12-16 lbs, range up to nearly 30.
Range: much of North America west of the Mississippi River and south of the Yukon Territory, with a population extending east into the Midwestern U.S.
Diet: small burrowing mammals; occasionally reptiles, amphibians, and birds
Mating: mid-late summer. Delayed implantation, then 60-80 day gestation period the next year.
Life Expectancy: 9-10 years.
Like pocket gophers, badgers are open country specialists, using their long, massive claws and bulky stature for digging extensively and quickly. Outside of the mating season, they are solitary, ranging across territories of several square miles.
Badgers specialize in hunting the prairie rodents that share their habitat, including mice, voles, pocket gophers, and ground squirrels. Though their digging habits can be destructive, badgers’ taste for rodents has the potential to serve as a valuable form of pest control for farmers.
In the Arb, look for their foraging sign and the rare den site throughout the restored prairies. A few years ago, there was an active family den in the 2008 meadow near the eastern edge of the Arb, but badgers are mobile and are likely to be on the prowl wherever prairie rodents are abundant. While they may be nocturnal, they certainly make their presence known.