What are our badgers doing in the middle of this damp and overcast November?
After October’s shorter days stimulated a second peak of mating activity, our badgers are feasting in order to put on fat reserves for the winter. They eat nuts, seeds and acorns as well as crops like wheat and sweetcorn and, when they can find them, the late root vegetables left in your allotment.
Badgers are also known to eat small animals including mice, rats, rabbits, frogs, toads, and hedgehogs, and may take advantage of animal carcasses and carrion they come across
Now, as the temperature falls, they are preparing their setts by cleaning out tunnels and bringing in dried grass and leaves for fresh bedding. They are less active, spending more nights underground, especially in wet weather. Fewer of their tunnel entrances are in use and many become covered and blocked with leaves, disguising the sett at a time when the surrounding vegetation dies back.
Badgers don’t hibernate, but they spend far more time in their setts so we see them less in the winter. They do emerge to forage in mild weather and might well visit your garden looking for fallen fruit or earthworms. Make them welcome.
The Wildlife Trusts say that regularly feeding badgers will make them unnecessarily dependent on us but putting out extra food for them occasionally will help them through the winter. The Trusts recommend wet cat or dog food, or specialist badger food, with some fruits, such as apples, plums or pears, and unsalted nuts.