||This page has been prepared for the "UK
Wildlife: First Aid and Care" Wildpro module, and is designed for the
needs of the following species: Meles
meles - Eurasian Badger
- Approach and handle with caution:
- May inflict severe bites.
- Even apparently unresponsive badgers may move suddenly when handled.
- Preferably get expert help.
- If the badger appears unconscious, prod gently with a stick, carefully stimulating
around the sensitive areas of the eyes and mouth, to check that it is really unconscious
before approaching within reach of its teeth.(B152,
- An upturned dustbin/wooden box may be placed over an injured badger and secured with a
heavy weight (e.g. a person sitting on it) while awaiting further assistance.(B152)
- Manoeuvre a dog-grasper around the neck before any other handling (B152);
- The noose should be placed just behind the ears to minimise the chance of its becoming
- Offering a stick for the badger to bite once the dog grasper is in place may distract
the badger from biting the handler.(D25)
- Grasp the loose skin over the rump and lift by this (and the grasper) into a carrying
cage or dustbin, taking care that most of the badger's weight is supported from the rump
not the dog grasper.(B152)
- Do not attempt to control by scruffing: there is insufficient loose
skin over the neck for safe restraint by scruffing.(D24)
- Once a dog grasper is in place it may be possible to manoeuvre the badger head first
into a dustbin (secure the lid with a rope once the badger is inside), stout wire cage or
- An unconscious badger may be lifted by grasping the skin at the neck and rump but
only after first poking gently with a stick, carefully stimulating around the
sensitive areas of the eyes and mouth, to confirm it is unconscious.
- A very weak badger may be lifted in the same manner, but only by an experienced
handler and always keeping a stout piece of wood between the handler and the
badger's mouth to ensure that if the badger wakes the stick, not the handler, is bitten.(B152)
- It has been suggested that, if severe neck injuries are present, an experienced
handler may lift the badger by the tail alone.
- This may result in tail dislocation if the badger struggles and also entails risk to the
Restraint for examination and treatment:
- May be best restrained using a crush cage for brief periods (D24).
- Brief restraint, for example to allow the administration of subcutaneous or
intramuscular injections, may be possible using blankets and wooden "pig
boards", or a broom, to immobilise the badger against a wall.(D24,
- General anaesthesia is generally required for examination.(J60.2.w3,
General Anaesthesia and
- Combination of intramuscular medetomidine and ketamine is commonly used for general
anaesthesia in small and zoo animal practice in the UK; extrapolation of dose rates for
companion animals from the manufacturers recommendations may be appropriate.
Manufacturer's recommendations for feline general anaesthesia include "[Medetomidine]
Domitor [Pfizer Limited] should be administered at a rate of 80mcg/kg [intramuscular] with
a concomitant dose of 2.5 - 7.5mg/kg [intramuscular] of Vetalar [Pharmacia and Upjohn
Ltd.] or Ketaset [Fort Dodge Animal Health](ketamine)." (B202)
In extrapolating dose rates a number of issues must be remembered:
- higher dose rates may be required for very nervous / excited / agressive animals who may
initially over-ride the effects of anaesthesia
- smaller animals with a higher metabolic rate may require proportionally higher dose
rates; the reverse is also usually true for larger animals
- collapsed, shock and/or dehydrate animals may required lower dose rates
- Sometimes there may be a requirement for additional "top-up" doses of
injectable anaesthetics (V.w6,
and the following should be considered:
- ideally, if a mask can be applied without excessive stress on the animal, masking it
down with either isoflurane or halothane is usually the best option.
- it is not desirable to reach the situation where additional doses are being given
in order to reach initial stable anaesthesia whilst the first drugs are wearing
off. It is all too easy to overdose in this situation. If three
injections are not effective - if possible, it is highly advisable to stop the
procedure, allow the anaesthesia to wear off and then repeat the procedure at a later date
using higher doses initially.
- when increasing dosages, careful consideration should be given both the side-effects of
the drugs and the availability of reversal agents
- If an intravenous injection can be given, it may allow more control over the depth of
- if a top-up dose is required, the following rule of thumb is recommended:
- If there is little effect on the animal after 15 minutes (it is alert and reponsive),
give a second full dose
- If the animal is clearly affected but still active after 15 minutes, give a 3/4 dose.
- If there is some degree of anaethesia, but a deeper level is required, give 1/2 dose.
- Beyond that - use best judgement.
Suggested protocols for badger sedation and general
- For general anaesthesia the following protocol has been used efficiently and
- Medetomidine (Domitor, Pfizer) 40 µg/kg bodyweight plus ketamine 7.5 mg/kg bodyweight
- Intramuscular injection in a conscious animal may be given while it is being physically
restrained by means of a crush cage or by remote injection e.g. blow-pipe.
- Once administration has taken place the badger should be left in a quiet dark place to
allow the drugs to take effect.
- The effects of medetomidine are normally reversed by injection of the agent atipamezole,
unless otherwise indicated. (V.w5,
- [General] anaesthesia for examination: Ketamine 7.5-10mg/kg plus medetomidine
100µg/kg provides more relaxation than ketamine alone but profound respiratory
depression. [Route not specified but presumed intramuscular] (J60.2.w3)
- [General] anaesthesia for examination: Ketamine 20-30mg/kg plus diazepam or
xylazine at less than 2mg/kg. [Route not specified] (J60.2.w3)
- Isoflurane may be administered carefully by anaesthetic face mask in a collapsed
- Ketamine 10-20mg/kg intramuscular for immobilisation, prior to maintenance of [general]
anaesthesia using inhalational anaesthetics.(B205)
- Combination of ketamine with a sedative (e.g. benzodiazepine, alpha-2 agonist) is
generally preferable to the use of ketamine alone. (V.w5,
- Combination of ketamine with a benzodiazepine may be preferable to its combination with
an alpha-2 agonist in sick or collapsed individuals because of the more limited
cardiovascular depression associated with the former agent. (V.w5,
- Gaseous [general] anaesthetic agents (such as isoflurane) may be administered by mask to
- Intubation is straightforward and recommended.(J60.2.w3)
- Isoflurane or halothane may be used to prolong [general] anaesthesia following the use
of injectable anaesthetic agents. (J60.2.w3)
- The length of starvation prior to induction of general anaesthesia should be appropriate
for the species in question and the likelihood of regurgitation. Clinical judgement should
be used as to the pros and cons of starvation in an emergency situation.