There is a badger sett in the park, hidden away in the boundary hedges.

Badgers are shy, nocturnal creatures that usually stay away from people, especially people who are walking dogs. You might see them at this time of year if you leave your dog at home and visit the park very early, before the sun rises, or late in the evening.

Badgers (Meles meles) are members of the Mustelid family, related to stoats, weasels and otters. They are classed as carnivores but they eat fruit, roots and bulbs as well as birds’ eggs and nestlings, small mammals and earthworms. They will also turn out the park’s rubbish bins if anybody has thrown away anything edible.

A sett is usually a complex of tunnels and chambers like an underground apartment block and it houses a clan that may have been there for decades. The clan will consist of more than one breeding female, non-breeding relatives of both sexes, and a dominant boar. Cubs are born in January and February but spend their first two or three months in the sett and don’t emerge until the spring. They are playful and noisy and, just about now, provide the year’s best opportunity for badger -watching.

An occupied sett is a tidy and organised place. The entrances are usually cleared of vegetation and there may be piles of used bedding nearby; there will be well worn paths through the home range. Badgers are territorial creatures and mark their territories with urine and scent glands; they dig latrines on their borders which the whole clan use to defecate.

Despite their black and white striped heads, the rest of a badger’s body is a camouflaged grey. They are unexpectedly large for such a quiet and unseen animal and a mature boar can be a metre long, a real surprise if you meet him on a woodland path.

Video by Nick Gomm

Conservation status: native, common and widespread. Badgers and their setts are fully protected in the UK under The Protection of Badgers Act 1992.

First posted in May 2019

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