Zooville USA has two European badgers named Ferny and Fiona. Their nickname is the Hufflepuff sisters! They are great ambassadors for their species and bringing awareness of the issues facing European badgers in the wild. 


What is the difference between American and European badgers?

          There are 11 species of badgers across the world. They are part of the Mustelid family which includes otters, ferrets, wolverine, and pine martens. American badgers are smaller than their European relatives. American badgers are also solitary animals and mostly carnivorous, whereas European badgers are social animals who are omnivores. Both species of badgers live in underground burrows, which is also where they give birth.  


Where do European badgers live?

        European badgers have a large range and can be found across Europe and into parts of the Middle East. European badgers live in underground burrows known as setts. As these are social animals, they will live in groups of around 4-8 individuals. Setts provide a home to live in, a place to give birth, and protection from predators and harsh conditions. Setts vary in size, as the badgers who live in them will work over time to expand them and create multiple entrances. These setts are actually passed down through generations and some setts are over 100 years old. While they live together and work together to improve the setts, the badgers usually will forage for food on their own.

        Badgers have 1 litter per year, which can range from 1-5 babies being born. European badgers are typically born in February and remain in the safety of the setts for about 12 weeks before beginning to venture out. The mother badger will start preparing one area of the setts before giving birth, by brining in grasses and other nesting material to keep the babies warm after birth.


What do European badgers eat?

European badgers are omnivores, meaning they eat a mix of meat and plants. They have long claws that are great for burrowing but also digging up food such as earth worms and slugs. They will also eat fruits and plant material. They are also one of the only predators of hedgehogs. Their long claws and thick skin help them avoid the spines! European badgers will only eat hedgehogs if their other food sources are scarce. Hedgehog populations are declining in Europe and was thought to eb a result of badger predation. However, research has now shown it is due a habitat loss which also affects the badgers.


 What is torpor?

        Torpor is similar to hibernation; in that it helps an animal preserve energy and resources during a difficult winter. Badgers will start to consume more food to add a large amount of fat reserves before the cold winter months. This allows them to remain mostly in their burrows with reduced metabolism and body temperature. This dramatically cuts down on the amount of food needed to survive.


What are the threats towards European badgers?

The biggest threats facing European badgers are humans and habitat destruction. Their underground setts can pose difficulties when building new homes/businesses. In 1992, the Protection of Badgers Act was passed which granted protection towards the badgers and the setts themselves. You must get approval before disturbing any of their burrows.

In 2020 in Europe over 60,000 badgers were culled. Europe has a legal cull on their badgers in an attempt to contain the spread of bovine TB. This is a very contagious and very deadly disease which affects cattle and livestock. Badgers can carry and transmit this disease to cattle, which is why Europe started the culling. However, research has shown that the badger culling has not been effective at halting the spread of bovine TB. The Badger Trust has started vaccinating badgers against bovine TB to reduce transmission. This has shown to be more effective at decreasing cases of bovine TB and is obviously better for the badgers as they are trapped, vaccinated, and released back into the wild.  

For more information about threats facing European badgers and how you can help, visit Badger Trust: Badgers | Badger Wildlife Charity UK | United Kingdom (