Did you know that we have badgers in the Bay Area?
To be honest, I’ve lived here most of my life and didn’t know we had badgers until recently. It kinda makes me wonder what else I might be missing…? And after seeing this video of a badger and coyote traveling together, I got even more curious about these critters.
We were pretty fortunate to catch these two traveling like this, and it makes me want to learn more about the life of this elusive (and adorable) creature. I’ve seen lots of coyotes, but I’ve never seen a badger in our open spaces. So, I’ve been doing some research, and the more I learn about them the more curious I become.
Here are a few things you too might not know about badgers:
Turns out that the reason we rarely see badgers is because they’re “fossorial,” meaning they dig and burrow. And they are perfectly designed for this — in fact, the word badger comes from the French word “becheur,” which translates to “digger.” Who knew?
Not only are they equipped with large front paws and curved claws that act as shovels, with smaller rear paws designed to clear away the soil pushed back by the front paws, they also have a third eyelid to keep their eyes free of debris. All the better to dig with!
In remote areas with vast open spaces, badgers will be out during daylight, foraging and hunting. In these areas, we see them more frequently. But in areas where there’s more human activity and it doesn’t feel quite as safe, they prefer to hunt at night in the relative safety of the dark. Their shyness is one reason why we doen’t see them frequently in our local preserves.
In fact, a badger’s burrow is so well designed and maintained that other animals like skunk and gray fox often occupy vacant burrows. Some endangered species will also make use of these spaces, like the red-legged frog and the tiger salamander. Talk about valuable real estate.
Though solitary creatures that spend a lot of time underground, our Bay Area badgers are still vulnerable to the rapid expansion of development in California. They prefer open habitats such as grasslands, meadows, fields and farmland — areas that are often good for building and are under threat of urban development. They are also susceptible to being hit by cars when crossing roads because of their low stature and relatively poor vision.
Open spaces provide badgers the room they need to find food, water and build a home to raise their young. By safeguarding our open spaces, and working to create safe passages for them to move, we are ensuring the future of the badger in our area.
Learn more about our wildlife program here.
Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) protects open space on the Peninsula and in the South Bay for the benefit of all. Since its founding in 1977, POST has been responsible for saving more than 87,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more