Please feel free to call us with any badger related problem you have. We provide free advice over the phone.
We can conduct a survey at your premises and subsequently provide you with a detailed quote on the work required to resolve the badger problem. Please see our ‘Services and Price List’ for information on survey costs.
The badger and its sett are protected and for good reason. Tampering with a badger sett can greatly affect the badger family during critical times in their life cycle. Therefore, it is an illegal offence to fill, insert into, or disrupt a badger sett in any way. A licence must be acquired from Natural England in order for us as experts to inspect the sett safely and effectively. As part of our service we will apply for the license.
To resolve a badger problem in its entirety requires ‘badger proofing’ following on from eviction from the sett. We guarantee that a badger will not re-enter into a sett that we have proofed.
The removal of a badger from its sett without sufficient ‘proofing’ would not deter them from re-entering. Badgers are territorial and will not give their home up easily. However, humane deterrence and proofing techniques prevent them from dwelling in areas where they can cause damage to property or create a nuisance, but still allows the animals to remain in their territory.
This is a service for people suffering genuine wildlife nuisance, helping to resolve and mitigate such problems safely, legally and at reasonable cost without harming the wild animals.
Badgers are an iconic, native British species from the Mustelid family (Meles Meles). They are Britain’s largest land predator. They vary in weight throughout the year and can grow up to 1 metre in size.
- Average weight: 8-12kg
- Life span: 5-8 years
- Total length: up to 1 metre
- Tail: 15cm
A thick layer of fat develops under the badgers loose fitting skin during the autumn months, this is then used as fat reserves during the winter months. During this time they feed less and spend more time underground. They are mainly nocturnal meaning they are most active at night and sleep during the day.
Badgers have large front paws and powerful claws which they use primarily for excavation. All four feet are equipped with six pads and long non-retractable claws. Their strong claws, padded feet and muscular stocky build make the badger an excellent digger, proficient swimmer and tree climbers. They also have a very strong bite and powerful jaw, which is impossible to dislocate.
Badgers rely heavily on scent glands for communication. They have different odours that deliver different messages such as warning signals and mating status. They do this through two different techniques; squat marking (dipping their rear and lifting their tails) and allo-marking (marking each other).
By a process called delayed implantation, badgers’ mate throughout the year but only have one litter. It is thought that certain hormones are released when the fatty deposits are used up in the early winter. An increase in these hormones allows the fertilised eggs to implant in December. The embryo (blastocyst at this stage) attaches itself to the wall of the uterus and starts to develop. Cubs are born in February and emerge from the sett at around 12 weeks. By 16 weeks cubs will have developed adult social behaviours including grooming and scent marking. 2-3 cubs per year is the most common litter size however they range from 1-5 cubs. Badgers live in family groups called ‘clans’ and their numbers range from 2-20, with an average of 6. There is a high mortality rate. Some badgers do live in isolation, although it is rare.
Most badger ‘nuisance’ experienced by people in urban and suburban areas falls into three categories; digging, damage to property and fouling.
These are all aspects of natural badger behaviour. Depending on the time of year and location, digging may occur to establish a breeding sett, a route from a to b, to defecate in, or simply to locate insects and prey. Digging intended to build a sett can cause substantial damage to the foundations of buildings. And holes dug to defecate in or to find food in will not undermine a building but can cause a nuisance, affect aesthetics and damage garden lawns. Fouling can also be used as a way to mark their territory.
Badgers live in family groups and will mark their territory against intruding ‘clans’. This comes in the form of urination, scent marking (musk) and fouling. The musky scent can be smelt 3 – 4 ft away. The fouling is generally left on badger paths close to the boundary.
As a company we generally deal with the issue when there’s more extensive provisions needed and when other avenues have been exhausted. Other methods can be tried first but their success is not widespread. These include ultrasonic deterrent devices, there has been reported success with Animal-Away Plus. Low level radio noise left on all night, low enough to not disturb neighbours, has been reported as successful. Try to work out what is enticing them in to your garden and then remove the source, ie. food. There are no legal chemical deterrents to deter badgers.
The best solution to resolving the more extensive issues associated with badger nuisance is to prevent the badgers from entering your garden, or reduce their area of access. In general, badgers will have ‘satellite setts’ ½ a mile to 100 metres from the main sett. Most of our evictions to date have been ‘partial evictions’, where-by we evict the badgers to a point where they no longer cause any damage to neighbouring buildings or gardens but they stay in the part of the sett which causes no offence. When given the chance most badgers will choose to stay. If a full eviction is required then we will build a replica sett for them to inhabit post exclusion from the original sett.
To exclude badgers we install fencing, dig the badger tunnels out, with diligent attention taken in regards to animal welfare, and install badger-proof mesh to ensure re-entry is not possible. It may be necessary for us to use a digger machine to dig a few metres below ground level. Where necessary, we also use metal one-way gates that we attach to the mesh, to ensure that no badger is left trapped inside. We monitor the activity of the badgers over-night using infrared cameras.
When protecting buildings from intrusion and undermining of the foundational structure by badgers, we install a vertical underground fence. Please see our gallery for detailed pictures of our work. It can take a matter of weeks to the best part of a year to complete a badger exclusion, depending on the extent of the issue.
On average a badger sett ranges from 20-100 metres with up to 50 entrances. One study found a sett in the Cotswolds with tunnels totalling 300 metres. It was estimated that 25 tonnes of earth had been moved by the badgers. They have very powerful claws to help them do this and can move vast amounts of earth and rubble in a short amount of time. The European badgers range extends from Britain, across Europe and to the Middle East. On average a territory is between 70 – 120 hectares but will increase in size if the habitat does not meet their needs.
Some setts are ancient networks of tunnels and chambers. They can stay in their main sett for 100s of years and only move on when it is no longer suitable and/or under threat. The main sett is where the cubs are reared and smaller satellite or ‘outlying’ setts are used to rest in when foraging. There will be up to 6 of these and can be found 100 metres to ½ a mile from the main sett. On occasion a satellite sett can be created by a family member that detaches themselves to start a family clan of their own.
Badgers generally like to build their setts under cover and in sloping ground in deciduous woods, copses and hedgerows. Well drained sandy soil is preferred although setts have been found in clay soils. Roots of trees and hedges are advantageous as they secure the ground.
Mounds of hay and other straw cuttings can be found outside a badger sett. They drag our anything they’ve been using as bedding and refresh it with new stick. This reduces infestation of fleas and lice.
Alder trees are often found nearby badger setts. They grow near setts because badgers eat their seeds and deposit them, unharmed, in their faeces. They germinate where they’ve landed and grow into trees.
The badgers main source of food is earth-worms. To reach them they create snout shaped holes in the ground in order to pull the worms out in one piece. Unlike other group animals, badgers will forage on their own. In a single night one badger may eat over 200 worms.
In harsh frosts earth worms can become scarce. Luckily badgers are omnivores and eat a huge range of food. They eat berries, fruit, roots, leaves, nuts, seeds, insects and small invertebrates such as slugs and snails. They will also eat eggs and the young of ground nesting birds.
When food is scarce they will eat small mammals. Their keen sense of smell and well adapted paws and claws means they are expert at locating a nest and digging a small mammal out.
In this situation badgers have been known to eat hedgehogs, which has caused some controversy as hedgehogs numbers have been in steep decline. Badgers and hedgehogs normally co-exist peacefully however both are now under threat from habitat destruction, climate change and reduction in food sources. This in turn forces the badger to prey on hedgehogs.
Badgers also clear our roads for us and will eat animal carcasses and carrion that they come across. When food is scarce badgers may also raid bins in search of nourishment.
We follow the guideline of the badger trust on feeding badgers. Their advice is as follows:
“The Badger Trust does not recommend feeding badgers. You may enjoy attracting badgers but this could be problematic for others in your neighbourhood. If you feel like you must feed them in severe weather when natural resources are in question a small handful of peanuts will suffice. Just like with dogs and cats, human foods are not healthy.”
Risks to Badgers
Traffic accidents – It is estimated that up to 45,000 badgers a year are killed on our roads. The badger trust collates road traffic accidents to identify hotspots and mitigate the risk. Please report fatalities to the badger trust. The prompt investigation of road traffic accidents can reveal orphaned cubs close by that can then be rescued.
Habitat loss – Of woods that are more than 400 years old the UK has lost almost half in the past 80 years. More than 600 ancient woods are under threat from urban development such as new roads, housing, airport expansion and fitting of pylon cables. This has meant that badgers have suffered a range of habitat loss and subsequently a reduction in their main food source. Luckily earthworms are in sufficient numbers to support badgers, however it has meant they have to look elsewhere for them, like our gardens.
Snares – Many badgers are caught in snares that cause immense suffering. Snares are required by law to be inspected at least once every twenty four hours, an unbearably long time to be snared. As the badger struggles to get free the snare tightens and cuts into the flesh. The Badger Trust campaigns for a ban of all snares.
Damage to setts – It is illegal to damage or interfere with a badger sett. However cases are reported of slurry, diesel and carbon monoxide being pumped into setts to kill the animals inside. Others block the entry holes and depending on the network of tunnels this can suffocate, starve and kill those living inside.
Lamping and Baiting – This is an illegal blood sport that unfortunately is still quite prevalent. Trained terriers will be sent down a badger hole by a baiter. They hold the badgers in place while the baiters dig them out. Already injured the badgers are then set upon by the dogs and the baiters or they are sold to other baiters to be forced to fight dogs in a ring. Lamping is where by badgers are set upon whilst out foraging at night. Again, they are either killed or sold for further torture.
Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) – bTB lesions in badgers can affect nearly all organs in their body. In badgers that have many lesions the most affected organ is the lungs. Unlike in cows it also affects their kidneys. Animals that catch the disease initially don’t show many symptoms. There can be a considerable latent period. However all infected will eventually die. They will lose weight, their bodies weaken and they will experience breathing problems affecting their ability to forage. Most badgers do not have the disease but those that do catch it from cows, most likely through infected urine and faeces, and also each other.
Disease and Risks
We believe the most sustainable and foreword thinking approach to stopping the spread of bTB is the vaccination project. The Badger Trust run the Badger Vaccination Project and more details can be found here: http://www.badgertrust.org.uk/projectvaccinate.
Badgers are very discrete and do not want to come into contact with you. If you find an injured badger then take extreme care if you approach. In defence they may bite if you come too close.
Badgers roam and forage in isolation so do not learn the dangers of the road, they do not see other clan members killed so can’t learn this way. A lucky few have near misses and can learn that roads aren’t safe. This means that there are a lot of road traffic accidents involving badgers and these are often fatal. In addition, this can cause significant damage to the front of your car. We recommend limiting your speed of driving down country roads.