Badger (Family: Mustelidae) - Wiki
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[Photo] A photo of a Honey Badger or a Ratel at Howletts Wild Animal Park. Date 1 January 2005. Joshua O photos. License: public domain. URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Ratel_or_honey_badger.JPG
Subfamily: Melinae, Mellivorinae, Taxidiinae
Badger is the common name for any animal of three subfamilies, which belong to the family Mustelidae: the same mammal family as the ferrets, the weasels, the otters, and several other types of carnivore. There are eight species of badger, in three subfamilies: Melinae (badgers of Europe and Asia ??? see links in species list below), Mellivorinae (the Ratel or honey badger), and Taxideinae (the American badger). The Asiatic stink badgers of the genus Mydaus were formerly included in the Melinae, but recent genetic evidence indicates that these are actually Old World relatives of the skunks (family Mephitidae). Typical badgers (Meles, Arctonyx, Taxidea and Mellivora species) are short-legged and heavy-set. The lower jaw is articulated to the upper by means of a transverse condyle firmly locked into a long cavity of the cranium, so that dislocation of the jaw is all but impossible. This enables the badger to maintain its hold with the utmost tenacity, but limits the jaw movement to hinging open and shut or sliding from side to side; it does not allow yawing as in most other mammals (including humans).
The name badger is possibly derived from the word badge because of the marks on the head, or it may be identical with the term noted below: the French word blaireau being used in both senses. An older term for "badger" is brock (Old English brocc), a Celtic loanword (Gaelic broc, Welsh broch, from Proto-Celtic *brokko). The Proto-Germanic term was *þahsu- (German Dachs), probably from the PIE root *tek'- "to construct," so that the badger would have been named after its digging of setts (tunnels).
A male badger is a boar, a female a sow and a young badger is a cub. The collective name for a group of badgers is a clan, colony, or cete.
(Subfamily Lutrinae: otters)
Hog Badger, Arctonyx collaris
Burmese Ferret Badger, Melogale personata
Oriental Ferret Badger, Melogale orientalis
Chinese Ferret Badger, Melogale moschata
Everett's Ferret Badger, Melogale everetti
Eurasian Badger, Meles meles
Ratel or Honey Badger, Mellivora capensis
American Badger, Taxidea taxus
(Subfamily Mustelinae: weasels, martens, polecats and allies)
Indonesian or Javan Stink Badger (Teledu), Mydaus javanensis
Palawan Stink Badger, Mydaus marchei
The behavior of badgers differs by family, but all shelter underground, living in burrows called setts. Some are solitary, moving from home to home, while others are known to form clans of up to 15. Badgers are fierce animals and will protect themselves and their young at all costs. Badgers are capable of fighting off much larger animals such as wolves, coyotes and bears.
North American Badgers are carnivorous and prey predominantly on pocket gophers (Geomyidae), ground squirrels (Spermophilus), moles (Talpidae), marmots (Marmota), prairie dogs (Cynomys), woodrats (Neotoma), kangaroo rats (Dipodomys), deer mice (Peromyscus), and voles (Microtus). They also prey on ground-nesting birds (such as bank swallow or sand martin Riparia riparia and burrowing owl Athene cunicularia), lizards, amphibians, carrion, fish, hibernating skunks (Mephitis and Spilogale), insects, including bees and honeycomb, and some plant foods, such as corn (maize, Zea mais), peas, green beans, fungi, and sunflower seeds (Helianthus). Unlike many carnivores that stalk their prey in open country, badgers catch most of their food by digging. They can tunnel after ground dwelling rodents with amazing speed. They have been known to cache food.
The honey badger consumes honey, porcupines and even venomous snakes (such as the puff adder). They will climb trees to gain access to honey from bee's nests.
Badgers have been known to attack the young of certain canines.
The diet of the Eurasian badger consists largely of earthworms, insects, and grubs. They also eat small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds as well as cereals, roots and fruit.
Badgers and humans
Many badger setts in Europe were gassed during the 1960s and 1970s to control rabies. Until the 1980sGassing was also practiced in the UK to control the spread of bovine TB. Scandinavian custom is to put eggshells in your boots when walking through badger territory, as badgers are believed to bite down until they can hear a crunch. Hunting badgers is common in many countries, either as a perceived pest, or for sport. Roaming badgers may not be killed, nor their setts interfered with, except on licence from the government. Ostensibly badgers are protected in the UK by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992. (Otherwise an exemption allowing fox hunters to loosely block setts to prevent chased foxes escaping into them was brought to an end with the passage of the Hunting Act 2004). Meddling in badger population is prevented as badgers are listed in the Berne Convention (Appendix III), but they are not otherwise the subject of any international treaty or legislation.
Badger-baiting is a blood sport outlawed in the United Kingdom by the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835 as well as the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.
The Dachshund dog breed has a history with badgers; "dachs" is the German word for badger, and dachshunds were originally bred to be badger hounds.
Badgers are popular in English language fiction. Many badger characters are featured in author Brian Jacques' Redwall series, most often falling under the title of Badger Lord or Badger Mother. One such badger contains 'Brock' in his name. Other stories featuring badgers include The Boy Who Talked to Badgers (1975 movie), The Tale of Mr. Tod, The Wind in the Willows, The Once and Future King, The Animals of Farthing Wood, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Book of Merlyn, and The Chronicles of Narnia. In the Harry Potter series, one of the four Houses, Hufflepuff, is symbolized by a badger. The character Frances in Russell Hoban's series of children's books is a badger. They also appear prominently in two volumes of Erin Hunter's Warriors: The New Prophecy series.
The most prominent poem on the badger is from the Romantic period's John Clare. "Badger" describes a badger hunt, complete with badger-baiting, and treats the badger as a noble creature who dies at the end.
Badger hair is used to make quality shaving brushes.
British forces were said to have released man-eating badgers in the vicinity of Basra, Iraq following the 2003 coalition invasion. This allegation has been denied by the British, and local scientists agree that the animals, Ratels, also known as Honey Badgers, are native to the area.
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