I’ve had mixed luck when it’s come to photographing badgers in the past. Although surprisingly common, they’re rarely seen given that they are nocturnal. So unless you know what you’re looking for and when to look, you’re chances of spotting them are slim!
Badgers are members of the mustelid family – the same as otters, ferrets, mink and pine martins. As a result, they share a few common traits. Namely that they are nocturnal and/or crepuscular (meaning they come out at dawn and dusk). They all tend to poop in the same place each time to mark territories. They have a “musky” smell and aren’t fussy about their food! They’ll eat anything from eggs, to snails, to berries!
Badgers actually have a few giveaway traits which will help you find them in the woods. They live underground in setts; the entrances of which will be large oval holes. These entrances might also be marked by bedding changes too which will look like mounds of grass and foliage.
Badgers dig shallow scrapes with their forepaws before pooping in what is called a “latrine”. There was actually an amazing study to work out the size of badger ranges by feeding badgers honey with small coloured pellets in it. The researchers found that the territories were clearly marked by different coloured pellets in each latrine meaning that latrines were only used by badgers from that sett and not neighbours.
Anyway, I digress…
Another interesting thing about badgers is that their hair is triangular and greyish in colour. You often find tufts stuck on barbed wire and, if you roll it between your fingers, you can feel the ridges on it which is a dead giveaway!
Finally, badgers have very identifiable paw prints. Because they dig massive holes, they have huge forepaws with five toes and big claw marks. Their hind paws are a lot smaller and less easy to spot but the front feet are very clear and easy to spot!
Once you’ve found signs of badgers in the area, its time to observe. This can be as simple as staying up late into the night and seeing if they appear but this can be time consuming and possibly fruitless. My personal preference is to leave a camera trap out over a week or so, collect in the footage and work out feeding habits before I descend with my camera!
Here is a video explaining all about camera traps and badger spotting. Happy hunting! (not hunting!)