The European Badger (Meles Meles) belongs to the weasel family which includes the otter, stoat, polecat, ferret and pine marten. Badgers are nocturnal animals and are rarely seen during the daytime.
They have a small head, small eyes, a thick short neck and a long wedge-shaped body with a short tail. They grow up to 30 inches (750mm) from head to tail, with a six-inch (150mm) tail, and can weigh between 8 and 12 kilograms. Males are slightly larger and heavier than the female.
The badger is mostly grey with a black chest and forepaws. Its most obvious feature is its prominent black and white striped head with white tipped ears. Badgers live in a network of underground tunnels called a sett.
Badgers are omnivorous, meaning that they eat a wide range of plants and animals. They have a varied diet depending on what food is available and on the time of year. The badger is a forager rather than a hunter and as such badgers are opportunists when it comes to diet – they will take whatever is available! A badger's diet mainly consists of earthworms, but they will also eat insects, birds and small mammals, fruits and berries, cereals, reptiles and amphibians.
Cubs are born mostly from January to March. Litter sizes range from one to five with the average number of cubs being born to a group as three. When cubs are born, they are blind, pink with white silky fur and measure about 12cm long. After being suckled underground for approximately eight weeks, they start to emerge from the sett at the end of April/beginning of May. This provides them with plenty time to feed and to develop sufficient fat reserves to see them through their first winter. Cubs are not totally independent from their mothers until they are about 15 weeks old.