Badger (Taxidea taxus)
This muscular, grizzled, brownish gray, long haired member of the weasel family is found principally in upland grasslands, such as meadows and hayfields. Its black face is bisected by a narrow, white stripe extending to the tip of a slightly pointed black nose. This nocturnal hunting carnivore sports a short, flattened, rudder like tail and stubby legs, ending in pebbly black feet and front toes tipped with long, stout, curved, sharp nails and has a wide flat appearance. Badgers may reach 2.5 feet in length and 30 pounds in weight.
Badgers are amazingly adept at burrowing. In soft soils, adults use their claws and teeth to move aside obstacles like a steam shovel, digging themselves into the ground and out of sight in a few minutes. Their dens may occupy old enlarged fox, coyote or woodchuck holes or newly dug, deep burrows up to 60 feet long.
Badgers prefer hunting in grassy openings. They consume a variety of prey such as mice, voles, chipmunks, ground squirrels, skunks, snakes, eggs and ground nesting birds. Carrion rounds out their diet. Some kills may be buried for later consumption.
When challenged or frightened, they will release a musky, skunk like scent. Courageous and territorial, badgers will attack if cornered. Other predators have difficulty grabbing this strong animal because it has a set of dense muscles forming a hidden protective collar around its neck and throat.
Badgers are an important living component of many Michigan ecosystems. You can feel fortunate if you ever see one of these secretive animals. Although fairly common, they are not often seen.