On Monday, there was a large turnout for Dave Williams, who gave us a talk on badgers. He is a member of the West Surrey Badger group and the Surrey Wildlife Trust and was Chairman of the Badger Trust, so he certainly knows his subject. He had many interesting anecdotes, and slides of various animals.
Badgers (meles meles) are widespread in Europe and are of the same family as stoats, weasels, otters and pine martens, but much larger at 12 to 14 kilos. They are omnivores, but rate as Britain’s heaviest carnivore. They have a sense of smell 500 times better than humans.
Their main food is earthworms but will take anything edible they come across. The males are called boars and the females sows It is hard to tell which sex they are by watching them, but boars have a wider head and less fluffy tail than the sows.
They mate at any time of the year, but have delayed implantation, so the young are born in February after an eight-week gestation. The cubs are weaned at 12 weeks and begin to come above ground then. They can live from three to 14 years.
They can travel over quite wide areas and in order to track them they are given food with coloured pellets in it, which are then deposited in their “latrines” so the animals from different setts can be identified.
Their biggest enemy is the car, many being killed on the road, though some still get killed by badger baiters, despite the “sport” being illegal for many years. Some are also “culled” as vectors for bovine TB, though this is debatable, and many scientists disagree.
If you find a sick or injured badger, or an orphan, call expert help. A local wildlife hospital or rescue are the best options.
Our next meeting will see Stuart Slocombe talk about Kew, Keukenhof and Hampton Court and is on April 6.
Don’t forget: Tool Sharpening on Saturday, March 28, and, of course, the Spring Show is on Sunday April 5.
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