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Did you know that we have Bay Area badgers in our open spaces?
The reason we rarely ever see these guys is because they’re fossorial, meaning they spend most of their lives underground. They are perfectly designed for this – in fact, the word badger comes from the French word ‘becheur’, which translates to “digger”.
Badgers are 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!
They are tidy animals and take pride in maintaining their burrow homes (called setts). Typically 1-2 meters underground, setts consist of a system of rooms that are sectioned into different living spaces. Badgers are quite the architects – each chamber in their setts serves a specific purpose. The largest chambers are for sleeping or raising their young, and separate quarters are used as the bathroom on the outskirts of the sett.
Check out a badger in action here:
Badgers like to keep a clean house, and the old hay and grass used as bedding is routinely dragged outside and replaced to avoid fleas and lice in their sleeping areas. The badger’s burrow is so well designed that other animals such as rabbits or foxes often occupy vacant setts.
Badger burrows are popular on the wildlife real estate market!
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 under threat of urban development. They are also susceptible to being hit by cars when crossing roads because of their low stature and realitively poor vision.
Open spaces provide badgers the room needed 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.
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 78,000 acres as permanently protected land in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Learn more