Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Carnivora / Mustelidae / Meles / Species
Meles meles - Eurasian Badger (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Old World Badger
  • Brock
  • Brochlach (Scottish Gaelic)
  • Broc (Irish Gaelic)
  • Mochyn daeaar (Welsh)
  • Broch (Welsh)
  • Pryf penfrith (Welsh)
  • Pryf llwyd (Welsh)
  • Blaireau (French)
  • Blaireau européen (French)
  • Dachs (German)
  • Gräving (German)

Alternative species names (the second part of the binomial species names): [Genus] aberrans; [Genus] alba; [Genus] altaicus; [Genus] amurensis; [Genus] anakuma; [Genus] arcalus; [Genus] arenarius; [Genus] blandfordi; [Genus] brittanicus; [Genus] canescens; [Genus] caninus; [Genus] caucasicus; [Genus] chinensis; [Genus] communis;  [Genus] danicus; [Genus] europaeus; [Genus] hanensis; [Genus] heptneri; [Genus] leptorhynchus; [Genus] leucurus; [Genus] maculata; [Genus] marianensis; [Genus] melanogenys; [Genus] minor; [Genus] raddei; [Genus] rhodius; [Genus] schrenkii; [Genus] severzovi; [Genus] sibiricus; [Genus] siningensis; [Genus] talassicus; [Genus] tauricus; [Genus] taxus; [Genus] tianschanensis; [Genus] tsingtanensis; [Genus] typicus; [Genus] vulgaris (B141).

Names for new-borns / juveniles

Names for males Boar
Names for females Sow

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General Appearance

Thickset/stocky body, broad back, thick neck, long head, conspicuously striped black and white, with pointed muzzle, short strong legs, short tail (B142, B147, B148).

Similar Species

Sexual Dimorphism
  • Males may have thicker neck, broader more domed head, narrow pointed white tail - more tufted in female.
  • Scrotum visible in adult males when sit and scratch.


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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B51, B141, B142, B143, B144, B147, B148, D25, D50

Husbandry references:

J3.105.w4, B157.w10, D24, J60.2.w2 , J60.2.w3

(UK Contacts)

(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group


Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques


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Husbandry Information


Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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Appearance / Morphology

Measurement & Weight

Length Head-Body length: 2-3ft/60-90cm (B144); 75cm (B148 ); 56-90cm (B147).
Height At shoulder: about 30cm (B148).
Adult weight General Summer 13-19lbs./7-13kg; Autumn 33-55lbs./15-25kg (B144). Usually 10-16kg but may reach 30-34 kg (B147).

September-February average 12.2kg, March-May 8.8km minimum after fat reserves used up (B142).

Male --
Female --
New-born weight 2.6-3.0oz./75-85g (B144); 75g (B147); 75-132g (B142); about 80-100g (D50).
Growth rate Reach average 8.8kg in first year, sometimes 10kg by December (B142). Depends on food availability (B142).
  • 6 weeks: may be 1kg / 2lb. in good conditions.
  • 6 months (end June/July) may weigh more than 6kg/13 lbs. (D25)
  • 1 year: 75cm/30 ins. long, tail 15cm, weight over 9kg/19.5 lbs. (D25)

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  • Skull: prominent interparietal ridge, growth starts at 10 months. To 1.5cm high in old males. Dislocation of jaw in adults not possible without fracture (B142)
  • Nose: Black (B147) Flexible muscular snout for digging (B142)
  • Ears: small but visible (B148)
Dentition (Teeth)
  • (I 3/3 C 1/1 P 4/4 M 1/2) x2 =38 (B148). Molars wide and uneven.(B148).
  • I 3/3 C 1/1 P3/3 M 1/1, sometimes with additional vestigial premolar behind canines. Flattened molars, prominent canines (B142).
  • Deciduous teeth I 3/3 C 1/1 P 3/3, but first and second incisors may not penetrate gums (B142).
Eyes --

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Legs and Tracks

  • Digitigrade, five toes on each foot, larger claws on forefeet.
  • Tracks show five toes, also fused broad plantar pads.
  • Heel mark may be seen in mud/snow.
  • forefeet claw marks seen in soft ground.
  • Bare soles.

(B142, B148)

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Coat / Pelage

Adult Female Coat coarse and thick.
  • Head: white, with broad longitudinal black stripe from snout back over eye and ear to neck on ether side, and ear tip white.
  • Dorsal: grey (sometimes described as silver-grey).
  • Ventral including throat: black/brown.
  • Legs: black/brown.

(B142, B144, B147, B148)

Variations (If present)
  • Albino, semi-albino (visible eye-stripes), ginger (erythristic) and melanistic forms all described (B142).
  • Fur may be stained colour of soil in sett (B142).
  • Single moult, prolonged.
  • Starts spring with shedding of underfur then guard hairs, from withers and shoulders then along back/flanks.
  • Regrowth in late summer of guard hairs then underfur.


New-born / Juvenile Greyish silky fur in new-born, with darker eyestripe visible (B142, D25).

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Neonate (New-born) Characteristics

Blind, thin silky whitish-grey fur, average 120mm long (4-5 inches long) (B142, B148, D25, D50).

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Detailed Anatomy Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

  • Reproductive: three pairs of teats (B144, B147). Bicornuate uterus. Testes in scrotum (B142).
  • Scent glands: subcaudal gland - invagination of skin below tail base (B142). Anal glands either side of tail in anal region, also interdigital glands (B142).

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Life Stages / Natural Diet / Physiology

Reproductive Stages

Breeding Season Mating July - August (B148) late winter to midsummer (B147). Mainly spring, February-May (B142).
Oestrus / Ovulation
  • Post partum oestrus may occur (B147).
  • Induced ovulation (B142).
  • May be second oestrus during period of delayed implantation (B142).
Gestation / Pregnancy
  • Delayed implantation for about 10 months (B147). Implantation December (B142).
  • Implantation of blastocysts appears controlled by light and temperature (B147).
  • Embryonic development following implantation of 6-8 weeks (B147), about 7 weeks (B142).
Parturition / Birth
  • Born early March (B148). Births mainly February to March (B147). Mainly February, but mid January to mid March (B142).
  • Usually in underground chamber but above ground if ground waterlogged (B142).
Neonatal development
  • Birth: blind, thin silky whitish-grey fur, average 120mm long at birth (4-5 inches long) (B142, B148, D25, D50).
  • One month: (B147); 5 weeks (B142, D25, D50) eyes and ears open, mobile but shaky and uncoordinated.
  • 4-6 weeks: deciduous teeth erupt (B142, D25, D50).
  • About 8 weeks: emerge from sett (B142); 8-10 weeks first emerge from the sett; hair quite long (D50).
  • 10 weeks: first permanent incisors at 10 weks, with remaining permanent teeth over six-week period (B142). Milk teeth may still be present after permanent teeth erupted (B142).
  • 3 months: mother regurgitating food for cubs, cubs (1kg/2 lbs.) (D25).
  • 4 months: permanent teeth present (D25).
  • 5-6 months: (end June/July) cubs weaned, feeding themselves. May weigh more than 6kg/13 lbs. by 6 months in good conditions (D25).
  • 1 year: 75cm/30 ins. long, tail 15cm, weight over 9kg/19.5 lbs. (D25).
Litter size 1-6, mostly 2 (B144); 3-5 (B148) 1-5 (B142).
Time between Litters / Litters per year One litter per year (B148).
Lactation / Milk Production About 3 months (B144) about 2.5 months (B147); weaning starts 12 weeks, some suckling to 4-5 months (B142).
Sexual Maturity One year (B144) (B147) .
  • Sows usually ovulating from 12-15 months rarely as early as 9 months and sometimes few months longer than usual (B142).
  • Boars usually mature 12-15 months, some as late as 2 years (B142).
  • In wild rarely more than 6 years, but occasionally to 11 years (B142).
  • In captivity to16 years (B144, B147), 19 years (B142).

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Natural Diet

  • Small mammals (rabbits, rats, mice, voles, shrews, moles, hedgehogs) (mainly juveniles), carrion (more important in winter), birds (mainly ground nesting/ground roosting birds), reptiles, frogs, molluscs, insects, bee and wasp larvae, carrion, nuts, acorns, berries and other fruit, seeds, tubers, rhizomes, mushrooms.
  • Earthworms important in diet in some areas (B147); earthworms most important (B142)
  • Grass and clover may be eaten in winter and drought conditions.

(B142, B144, B147, B148)

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Detailed Physiology Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

Temperature --
Pulse --
Respiration --
  • Vary according to diet. "muddy" when earthworms eaten. Usually looser than dog faeces (B142).
  • Usually in shallow pits, sometimes on surface (B142).
Haematology / Biochemistry --
Chromosomes 2n=44 (B142).
Other --

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Feeding Behaviour

Opportunistic foraging (B142).

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Parental Behaviour

  • Females defend cubs against predators (e.g. foxes).
  • Females groom cubs.
  • Female may provide cubs with solid food during weaning period.
  • Usually separate in autumn, sometimes remain with sow over winter.

(B142, B147, B148).

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Social Behaviour / Territoriality

  • Social groups 2-23 average 6 animals (B142); clans of up to 12 animals (B147).
  • Usually more females than males in clan (B147).
  • Minimum 300m between main burrows of clans (B147).
  • Home ranges 50-150 hectares with little overlap (B147); may be about 30 hectares in optimal habitat, but 150 hectares or more in marginal habitat (B142); territory size 125-375 acres/50-150 hectares per clan (B144).
  • Less pronounced territoriality in low population density areas (B142).
  • Mark range by defecation and subcaudal gland secretions (B147).
  • Sometimes fight at territorial boundaries (B147).
  • Females sometimes sleep in outlier setts (B147).
  • Usually a dominant boar for each group (B142).
  • Peak of territorial activity in spring, at same time as peak mating activity (B142).
  • Boars have larger ranges within territory than do sows and play predominant role in territory demarcation (B142).
  • Fighting (related to territory defence and mating) mainly seen in boars in spring. Bite on neck and rump, can be fatal (B142).
  • Social grooming occurs (B142).
  • Play with each other (B147).
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Mating mainly within group, but some successful matings from boars of neighbouring groups (B142).

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Predation in Wild

  • None (B144).
  • None for adults (B142).
  • Foxes and dogs may take cubs (B142).

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Activity Patterns

  • Do not hibernate but reduced emergence and activity in winter.
  • Retain normal body temperature and ability to move.
  • Emerge periodically to eat; most likely to stay in sett for several days when hard frost.
  • May be mainly sleeping for several months (seven months in Siberia).
  • Expert digger.
  • Can swim.
  • Can climb sloping trees.
  • Slow walk when foraging, ambling head-down trot for travelling, but up to 30km/hr for short distances.
  • Shuffling gait.
  • Sett digging and bedding collection all year but mainly autumn and spring.

(B142, B144, B147, B148).

  • Mainly crepuscular and nocturnal.
  • Tend to emerge before dark May to August, after dark rest of year (B142).
  • May be active in daytime in undisturbed areas and when food shortages e.g. in drought (B142).
  • May lie up out of sett in cover of bracken/brambles/cereals, especially August/September.

(B142, B144, B148)

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Habitat and Range

General Habitat Type

  • Wide habitat range.
  • Deciduous, mixed and coniferous woodland, hedges, scrub, riverine habitat, agricultural land, grassland, steppes, semi-deserts.
  • Also suburban areas, urban parks.
  • Occasionally to 1600-1700m in alpine/mountainous areas (B143).

(B51, B142, B143, B144, B147)

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Nests / Burrows / Shelters

  • Distribution of setts varies depending on soil and landscape.
  • Deciduous and mixed woodland/copses preferred for digging setts, followed by hedgerow/scrub and coniferous woodland. Sometimes under buildings.
  • Well-drained soil easy to dig preferred, also minimal disturbance by humans and their animals, and good food supply.
  • Complex. May cover area of several hectares.
  • Den may be 1.5-2m, even 5m underground. One entrance, several exits, also ventilation shafts. Den lined with leaves and moss. Separate 'privy pit' chamber.
  • Nest may be 10m from entrance.
  • Usually 3-10 entrances, range 1-80, diameter at least 25 cm.
  • Large spoil heap outside den entrance - discarded bedding.
  • Dry grass, bracken, moss, leaves, straw used to line den - dragged in backwards.
  • In winter may take bedding outside during day, return to sett later.
  • Separate dung pits or latrines.
  • Generally covered by thick vegetation.
  • Also small 'outlier' burrows with single entrance.

(B142, B143, B147, B148)

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Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

  • Palearctic: not North Africa, but including south-eastern China. Found from Ireland in west to Japan in east , north as far as Finland and south to Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Tibet, China.
  • In Europe: British Isles, mainland Europe including Mediterranean islands (Tinos, Crete, Rhodes, probably Siphenos, Andros. Not in Balearic archipelago.

(B51, B143)

  • In Britain, not found in most large urban areas, some intensively farmed areas, highlands over 500m, extensive lowlands where flooding is likely. Not found on most offshore islands, although present on Anglesey, Aran, Isle of Wight, possibly Mull (B142).
Occasional and Accidental --


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Intraspecific variation

  • Asiatic animals sometimes separated as Meles anakuma (Temminck, 1884) (B143).
  • In Europe several subspecies have been described, but poorly defined (B143).

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
  • Not endangered (B144).
  • Populations generally stable although some decrease in agricultural areas due to loss of suitable habitat (B143).
General Legislation
CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
  • Loss of suitable habitat (B143).
Captive Populations --
Trade --

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