Badgers Are Shy and Fascinating Creatures - Perfect for the Wildlife Trail Camera
Badgers are mainly nocturnal animals that are rarely seen in daylight. They live as a social group in clans, based around a home called a sett. Badgers are very much creatures of habit, sticking to paths they've worn away as families over many years. They're one of the most popular UK animals, yet due to their nocturnal habits most of us never see them. This makes them a perfect target species for your trail camera.
To get good footage of badgers you need to learn to identify badger tracks, and badger setts.
Because they tend to strictly follow their paths, you ought to get good footage if you cover part of the path. The best footage will be gained from a view of the entrance to their setts.
A typical badger clan is made up of a small group of adults and their cubs. Usually a clan is no larger than 20 badgers, and often smaller than 10. Clan members recognise each other by the "clan smell".
Badgers are social animals living in groups - known as a clan - of around six to twelve badgers.
A Badger clan often has more than one sett in its territory.
Badger setts vary in their status and level of use; four main types of badger sett can be
Main setts are the most important and largest. A badger clan will almost always have only one main sett. This will be in continuous use and is also the breeding sett.
You can identify the main sett by these features:-
Lots of 'D' shaped badger holes (look for around 12) with large spoil and bedding heaps at the entrance;
signs of usage throughout the year;
well worn paths to and from the sett and between entrances.
Annex setts are fairly close to main setts (usually 50 to 200 metres away). There will be several holes (look for around eight). They will be linked the main sett by well worn paths. The annex is probably not in continuous use.
Subsidiary setts are similar to annex setts, but smaller (look for around four holes). There probably won't be an obvious path to the main sett.
Outlying setts will be well away from the main sett, and probably no visible
path to the other setts. Outlying setts are used very infrequently by the badgers, and are much smaller (look for around 2 holes). Outlying setts will often be occupied by foxes or rabbits when badgers are vacant.
A good tip to determine which badger holes are active is to lay a light twig across the hole. If it's still in place when you next visit, you'll know the hole hasn't been entered or exited. Another good tip with badger paths is to find a point where they go under a fence or a very low branch. Stick a 3 inch length of sticky tape so that it hangs down in the centre of where the track goes under the obstacle. Loose and moulting hair will stick as the badger passes, so when you visit in a couple of days, you'll know the path is in use.
Although a badger clan operates as a very sociable group, a badger clan is usually led by a dominant "Alpha Male" and badgers are fiercely territorial. They'll only accept badgers with their same clan smell.
The Badger Land website aims to be the definitive online guide to Badgers in the United Kingdom
The New Forest Badger Group website has some superb online badger videos including 'At Home with Badgers' by the late Eric Ashby. There's some great tips on this website for evening badger watching, and a great explanation of the importance of staying downwind to be successful at badger watching.
The Badger Watcher website - 'Tales from the Wood' is a fascinating blog which in our opinion has become one of the best badger web sites available. There's some really good badger information, and the blog style and reader interaction is impressive.
David Dixon's 2 page article Badgers and the Moon on the Discover Wildlife website is useful to anyone wanting to observe badgers with their wildlife trail camera. The first page tells lots about the behavior which changes relative to moon phase. The second page Badgers and the Moon Page 2 has a month by month calendar of badger activity that's invaluable to the trail camera user.
If you want to watch badgers in the flesh rather than via your wildlife trail camera, there's an excellent Badger Watching Guide on Steve Barnett's Badger Watch website. This website does pretty much what it says on the tin and has some good badger photographs.