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Brawny Badgers

Jul 26, 2020

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.

The Badger Files

  • Badgers live in open areas such as prairies and other open grasslands, where ground squirrels and other burrowing animals, their principal foods, abound. They also occur in croplands, the sand prairies of southeastern Missouri, plus fields, pastures, yards around homes, parklands, and farms.
  • Access to a good supply of rodents is important to badgers.
  • They find shelter along roadways, fence rows, ditches, banks, and field edges.
  • Because of their uncommon status in Missouri and a regulated harvest, badgers need no general management in Missouri.
  • In Missouri, the badger is a Species and Communities of Conservation Concern, listed as "vulnerable to extirpation" because of its restricted range, relatively few populations or occurrences, and recent and widespread declines.
  • Badgers are occasionally trapped, but their fur is not valuable, so most trappers do not target them.

Discover more in MDC’s Field Guide.


American Badger
American Badger


American Badger in Missouri grassland
American Badger in Missouri grassland

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