THE BADGER GUIDE

The rise of the urban badger, as humans develop on historical badger territories, brings with it some growing pains as humans and badgers learn to coexist peacefully. Badgers carry on going about their business and in doing so occasionally cause issues with their human neighbours. Many view badgers as a treat and are delighted by their presence, while others view them as night time pests.  Regardless of your view read our handy guide to living alongside your local badgers...

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Feeding badgers

The Badger Trust does not recommend feeding badgers. You may enjoy attracting badgers but this could be problematic for others in your neighbourhood. If you feel like you must feed them in severe weather, when natural resources are in question, a small handful of peanuts will suffice. In times of drought, we suggest you put out water and covered cat biscuits (to prevent flies and other animals) rather than peanuts. Just like with dogs and cats, human foods are not healthy.

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COVID-19 Guidance for the public and those who regularly feed badgers in their garden

We would like to stress that at present there is no risk of catching COVID-19 from our wildlife – although some domestic pets and mink (in Denmark) have tested positive for the disease. However, it is vital that we do not pass SARS-CoV-2 to badgers and other wildlife. 

General guidance

Please follow our general guidelines if you regularly encounter badgers:

  • If you feel unwell do not go out surveying or feed wild animals.

  • Stay at least 2 metres away from badger setts and other animal dens – if this is not possible, wear a mask. 

If you feed badgers in your garden

Please follow the guidance below to prevent possible transmission of COVID-19 via food and equipment (dishes, etc.):

  • Wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds and use disposable or washable gloves before handling food or equipment

  • Keep any equipment (e.g. dishes, knives, chopping boards) separate to other kitchen equipment and ensure that it is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before and after use. 

  • Where possible, avoid handling food directly – use a scoop or similar and ensure it is cleaned thoroughly and disinfected before and after use and wash fruit or vegetables.

  • Wear a mask when preparing and putting out food

  • Do not feed animals by hand

  • If you come across an injured badger, you should avoid physical contact and call an expert (either your local badger group, wildlife rescue or the RSPCA)  

 

Thank you for considering wildlife and protecting them from any risk of transmission. 


For anyone working with free-ranging wild animals, read our dedicated COVID-19 guidance for groups and see WHSG and OIE guidance.

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Traffic accidents

Thousands of badgers are killed on our roads every year. The Badger Trust collates road traffic accidents to identify hot spots where mitigation should be placed or identify new setts. Please report fatalities to the Badger Trust. Occasionally the prompt investigation of RTAs reveals the presence of orphaned cubs nearby that can be rescued.

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Injured badgers

Badgers injured in fights sometimes retreat to places where they can rest and recover in peace, free from the attentions of would-be aggressors. Perfectly healthy badgers can also turn up in outhouses which appear to be a good place to spend the day. Barns, garden sheds, corners of gardens, spaces under patios are often chosen. Badgers found in buildings should, wherever possible, be assessed by an experienced individual, ideally by contacting a local badger group. Any ugly-looking bite wounds to their necks or rear quarters will often recover very quickly without intervention, but should always be assessed by someone with specific knowledge who can then decide if the animal can be left of its own accord, or if it may need to be checked by a vet.
 
If you find a badger either in unnatural surroundings or above ground during daylight hours, they may be injured or unwell. Do not attempt to approach the animal, but seek expert help as soon as possible if you are concerned. Frightened animals may bite in self-defence. Trained wildlife rehabilitators, RSPCA inspectorate, and experienced members of badger groups have the skill and experience to approach, handle and make badgers safe in secure carrying cages, so please wait until they arrive at the site.

The ‘Badger Rehabilitation Protocol’ is a published guide which should be used when dealing with badger rescue and rehabilitation. Initially produced as a collaboration between Secret World Wildlife Rescue, RSPCA and Badger Trust in 2003, it was comprehensively updated in 2018 by Dr Elizabeth Mullineaux, a recognised specialist in wildlife medicine (mammals), at the prompt of the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in 2018. The protocol can be accessed here. Badger rescue should not be attempted without expert help.

Always remember that badgers and their setts are protected by law, and in many circumstances a licence is needed prior to any action that is likely to cause the animals or their home disturbance, or risk doing so. We recommend contacting your local badger group where possible in the first instance for help. If you do not have a local group try to contact your local wildlife rescue, the RSPCA or call Badger Trust on 01342 833028 to see if we can find another option. Please note as a small charity the phone line is not staffed 24 hours, and only Monday to Friday during office hours. If we are not able to take your call and it is urgent please contact the RSPCA.

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Lawn damage

Badgers find food where they can. Often unseen and unheard, they wander quietly into gardens at night feeding on the earthworms, grubs, snails and slugs they find in lawns and borders. They usually leave small visual signs, a snuffle hole, pieces of scratched turf, as visual evidence of their nighttime visit.  In dry or frosty conditions when natural food is hard to come by, they can damage flower beds and lawns in desperate search of food. 

If you are having issues with badgers digging up your lawns see here for further information on leatherjackets and chafer grubs. Controlling the food source can be the first deterrent if you are unhappy about your nighttime visitors.

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Deterrents

Badgers can be discouraged or prevented from entering gardens by solid, effective fencing, locked gates and the use (not always 100 per cent effective) of ultrasonic deterrent devices. Members of Brockwatch, the badger group for Northampton and South West Northants, report success with a device called Animal-Away Plus. Another Group reports that a radio left on all night in a garden-at levels which didn't offend neighbours-successfully discouraged badgers from entering. However, where practical, electric fences are the most effective humane deterrents. There are no legal proven chemical deterrents for badgers. Recurring attempts by badgers to enter gardens are sometimes resolved only when badger-proof mesh is trenched in to a depth of around one metre to prevent them from digging under fences.

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How flooding impacts the lives of UK badgers

The extent of flooding caused by recent storms could be having a devastating impact on badgers. From loss or damage to badger setts, to difficulties finding food in flood-affected habitats, life will be harder for badger clans throughout the UK. Read more about how flooding impacts the lives of UK badgers.

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We are experiencing more prolonged dry periods with little to no rainfall, which is to be expected as part of a change in our climate. This naturally will have an effect on our native wildlife including our badgers. Read more about how drought impacts the lives of badgers in the UK.