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Friday, March 8, 2002

ANIMAL TRACKER

Badger


Japanese name: Nihon-anaguma
Scientific name: Meles meles anakuma
* Description: Badgers are stout, bearlike animals. Body length of males is 56-68 cm, females 52-59 cm. They have short limbs and tails, but the characteristic feature of badgers are the black stripes on the face. These usually run from nose to ear, across the eye area, but can sometimes be shorter, as in the photo.
* Where to find them: From Honshu to Kyushu, in woods and forests. Badgers live in social groups of about six adults, though larger groups are sometimes found. They are active at night. During the day, they live in underground catacombs of tunnels, chambers and toilets called setts -- a habit reflected in their Japanese and scientific name, which means "hole bear." The burrows are inherited from the badgers' parents, so can be centuries old. Each generation maintains, expands and improves the sett. One sett excavated in England was found to have 879 meters of tunnels and 178 entrances. Researchers estimated that its construction required the removal of 70 tons of soil.
* Food: Badgers eat a wide variety of foodstuffs, including insects and other invertebrates like earthworms; small mammals, reptiles, amphibians such as frogs; fruit and other plant matter; carrion.
* Special features: Badgers live in clans containing a dominant male and female and subordinates. If a subordinate female gets pregnant, the dominant female usually kills the cubs when they are born. Territories are scent-marked and males will aggressively defend their territories against intruding badgers. Badgers mate from late winter to mid-summer. Gestation take seven weeks, but if a female becomes pregnant at the wrong time of the year, development of the early embryo may be delayed by up to 10 months until environmental conditions such as day length and temperature are suitable for raising cubs. One to four cubs are born in February and March, and usually leave home to live independently at 7 or 8 months. But some badgers, especially females, never leave their parents.



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