How do you identify a badger hole?
A badger hole is generally the shape of a D on its side, as opposed to circular, and does not narrow inside the entrance, unlike rabbit holes.
Unlike rabbit holes, which are usually round, a badger's sett entrance is commonly found in a D shape and does not narrow inside the entrance. This is a major difference to look out for when trying to identify whether a hole is that of a rabbit or a badger.
Badgers create three kinds of holes that distinguish them from other garden pests. Their dens, also called setts, are the largest holes they dig. Setts have openings six to 12 inches wide surrounded by piles of dirt. Badgers with nearby dens also dig several pits about six inches deep and wide for their droppings.
A badger hole can be two to nine feet deep and often measure one or two feet in diameter. These holes pose a serious danger to homeowners and farmers alike.
A fox-hole is usually much smaller, and may contain several bones at or near the entrance (badgers do not usually bring much food back to the sett). You will probably notice a pungent smell from a fox-hole - especially if the fox has been near the entrance.
Badgers are nocturnal: they sleep during the day and are active at night. They emerge from their sett in the evening to play, socialise and forage. Unfortunately for the badger watcher they don't come out at exactly the same time every evening. They vary the time of emergence from day-to-day and month to month.
- Dug up spots in your lawn or flower beds – this is evidence of the badger looking for grubs that live in the soil.
- Partly eaten fruits, vegetables or bulbs – if the badger can't find any grubs, it'll move onto the next available food source.
A badger-proof wire mesh, buried to a depth of 1m (3ft) may prevent them digging under fences. The bottom 30cm (12in) should be bent outwards to stop the badgers burrowing underneath. Many badger groups suggest using a battery-operated electric fence as the best method of preventing them getting in.
Badgers in the garden tend to dig up lawns to find insects and, occasionally, flower beds to eat bulbs or vegetable beds when other food is scarce.
When looking more widely around the farm land, setts, runs and latrines tend to be the most obvious signs of badger activity. Tufts of hair on fences and claw marks on water troughs may also be useful for identifying badger presence in specific areas of the farm.
Do badgers stay in one place?
Many badger species are very social creatures and live in groups called a cete or clan. A clan shares territory and setts. Setts can be centuries old and are used by many generations of badgers. One sett can be 22 to 109 yards (20 to 100 meters) or more long, according to the Somerset Wildlife Trust.
Most setts have several active entrances, several more that are used rarely, and some that have fallen into disuse. Setts are not always excavated entirely in soil. Sometimes they are under the shelter of a shed, or in a pile of timber or rocks.
Most badger tunnels have a distinctive shape, being wider than they are tall, with a flattened base. Tunnels excavated by foxes and rabbits tend to be rounder or oval in shape, and taller than they are broad. The tunnels excavated by badgers are around 30cm in diameter, certainly no smaller than 25cm in diameter.
Badgers poo in shallow pits called 'latrines'. Their droppings vary from firm and sausage-shaped, to softer, slimier and darker if they've been eating lots of worms! Badger droppings have a sweet, musky smell.
Badgers can live in social groups of two to 23 adults, but usually around six. These defend an area around their main sett as a territory. Territories may be as small as 30ha, but are up to 150ha or more in the Highlands.
There may be extensive spoil outside the holes of rabbit warrens, which are 10-15cm in diameter and usually slope inwards at a shallow angle. Rabbit droppings and tufts of fur are frequently found outside burrows. There will be extensive signs of grazing close to burrows, especially on edges of arable fields.
Rabbit burrows, also called rabbit holes, have a main entrance surrounded by a mound of dirt that leads into an often complex series of underground chambers. There can also be additional entrances without mounds.
Rabbits will build a shallow nest of grass and fur in grassy areas near bushes or trees and often right out in the open. These nests tend to look like patches of dead grass, or dead spots, in your yard.
Down the rabbit-hole implies going into the unknown, as rabbits tend to disappear quickly. In a rat-hole describes being in a closed up filthy environment.