The American badger is built for digging. With long claws and powerful legs, a badger can dig faster than a man with a shovel. When digging, a badger loosens dirt with its front feet, passes it under its belly, and kicks it out with its hind feet, sometimes sending dirt five feet in the air!
In the Midwest, badgers live in open prairie and agricultural land. They dig shallow burrows for living and hunting food. They dig deeper dens lined with grass for rearing young. Females will bear one to five cubs. Cubs head out on their own at around five or six months. American badgers, unlike their European counterparts, are solitary animals. The only exception is mating season which runs from late summer to early fall.
Badgers favor young rabbits and rodents which they dig up. Aided by strong jaws and sharp teeth, they are fierce hunters. On defense, their muscular necks and loose fur make them harder to catch. They also defend themselves by hissing or growling and emitting a musky odor.
Badgers can dig faster than their prey. All this digging helps mix and aerate the soil. In the past, badger fur was used to trim coats and make shaving brushes, and their hides were used for rugs. Badgers are important predators.
Discover more in MDC’s Field Guide.