For the iconic and well-loved badgers in Britain, April is both an exciting and critically important month of the year as badger cubs begin to emerge from their setts and experience the world above ground for the first time.
As a result of ‘delayed implementation’, a unique technique of reproduction, sows only give birth to one litter per year, averaging 2-3 cubs per litter. In southern Britain, this usually occurs in mid-February in chambers lined with straw, hay and grass gathered by the sow.
The newborn cubs are pink-skinned and covered in silvery-grey fur. Suckling on their mother for an estimated 12 weeks, they gain weight very quickly and open their eyes at around 5 weeks old, when they begin exploring the underground tunnels of their sett. Once sufficient food is available and the mother has finished lactating, the cubs begin to emerge from their setts; some only at 9 weeks old. Cubs remain close to their mothers and forage for earthworms that rise to the surface as spring temperatures continue to rise and warm the topsoil. By 15 weeks old the cubs are fully weaned and able to fend for themselves.
However, as foraging activity increases so does the unfortunate likelihood of road traffic incidents. In fact, an estimated 50,000 badgers are lost every year as a result of vehicle collisions. Although this is incredibly alarming, by simply contacting your local badger trust, RSPCA or local rescue centre you can help save an extraordinary number of injured badgers that would otherwise be lost without your help.
Reporting road traffic accidents is also a good way of improving badger mitigation as locally important setts and so-called ‘black spots’ can be identified, protected and locations communicated to road users raising awareness of their locations.
For more information see our article – Eurasian Badger – Give a Flying Brock