The American badger (Taxidea taxus) is a badger species native to North America. It is found in the central and western United States, south-central Canada, northern Mexico, and certain areas of southwestern British Columbia.
Though the American badger is similar in appearance to the European badger, they are not closely related.
The American badger’s habitat is usually by open grasslands with available (such as squirrels, mice, and groundhogs).
It occurs in areas such as the prairie region with sandy loam soils where digging is made easy to get its prey.
The American is known to have most general traits common to badgers; short, powerful legs, low-slung and stocky body, distinctive head markings, and huge foreclaws (5 cm in length). They also possess a large bony and strong humerus processes for the attachment of the muscles.
Measuring generally between 23.5 – 29.5 in (60 – 75 cm) in length, males of the species are relatively larger than females. They may reach an average weight of roughly 14 – 16 lb (6.3 – 7.2 kg) for females and up to 19 lb (8.6 kg) for males.
Adult male badgers can reach up to 25 – 33 lb (11.5 – 15 kg) when food is plentiful. Females can average 21 lb (9.5 kg) in the northern populations.
Apart from the head, all other parts of the American badger are covered with a grizzled, black, brown, and white coat of coarse fur or hair. The coat helps the American badger camouflage in grassland habitat.
A distinctive black and white pattern is displayed on its triangular face, with blackish or brown “badges” marking the cheeks.
The American badger is classified as a fossorial carnivore. It preys predominantly on ground squirrels (Spermophilus), pocket gophers (Geomyidae), marmots (Marmota), moles (Talpidae), pika (Ochotona), prairie dogs (Cynomys), kangaroo rats (Dipodomys), woodrats (Neotoma), voles (Microtus), and deer mice (Peromyscus).
It also includes snakes in its diet, especially rattlesnakes. American badgers also prey on ground-nesting birds, such as sand martin or bank swallow and the burrowing owl.
Other prey animals include amphibians, lizards, fish, carrion, skunks (Mephitis and Spilogale), insects (including honeycomb and bees), and some plant foods such as peas, corn (Zea mais), green beans, sunflower seeds (Helianthus), mushroom and other fungi.
Badgers are solitary animals, although, they are known to expand their territories to seek out mates during the mating season. Mating occurs in early fall or late summer, with some males mating with more than one female.
They are experience delayed implantation, with pregnancies being delayed until December or as late as February. Newborns are born from late March – early April in litters ranging from 1 – 5 young, averaging about 3.
Newborns are born blind, helpless, and furred. Their eyes open at 4 – 6 weeks. The female feeds her newborn solid food prior to complete weaning.
Young badgers leave the den for the first time on their own at 5 to 6 weeks old. Juveniles leave their families from the end of June to August, and their dispersal movements are known to be erratic.
The average lifespan of an American badger in the wild is 9 to 10 years, while in captivity, they are known to live up to approximately 16 years.
The American badger inhabits grasslands and open areas with grasslands, which include farms, parklands, and treeless areas with a supply of rodent prey and friable soil.
They can also be found in meadows and forest glades, brushy areas, marshes, mountain meadows, and hot deserts.
American badgers are frequently seen at elevations up to 3,700 m (12,000 ft) but are usually found in the Transition and Sonoran life zones.
In Arizona, they occur in semi-desert grasslands and desert scrub. The American badger use of home range varies with sex and season.
The American badger is vulnerable to other animal species in its habitat, and such predators include coyotes, golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), bobcats (Lynx rufus), grey wolves (Canis lupus), and bears (Ursus spp.).