Wildlife spotlight: American badger

Wildlife spotlight: American badger

Small but fierce

The American badger (Taxidea taxus) is a small but fierce member of the weasel family. Because they are built for defense, badgers have short legs, a flat body, and stumpy tails.  Their claws and triangular faces are specialized for digging and borrowing into tight spaces.

When threatened by predators, badgers hiss, growl, and emit a musky odor that is not quite as smelly as their cousin, the skunk.
The American badgers is carnivorous, and will hunt insects, prairie dogs, groundhogs, mice, and ground-dwelling birds. Because they are diggers, badgers will sometimes cache food for later us.

Badgers have been known to keep some tough company. In some parts of the U.S., they’ve have been seen to hunt alongside coyotes. In these short-term alliances, the badger takes advantage of prey driven underground by the coyote, while the coyote benefits from burrowing prey, like ground squirrels, chased above ground by the badger. This is an example of mutualism, in which animals of different species work together to meet their individual needs. 
American badgers populations are decreasing across the United States, primarily due to habitat loss caused by urban development and agriculture. Poisoning and shooting of their primary food source – prairie dogs – is also detrimental to the species. 

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