Badgers are not the kind of animals you’d like to see on your lawn. As far as wild animals go, these live up to their name. They’re malicious, territorial and openly aggressive towards other small animals such as cats and dogs. Badgers also have the tendency to turn the lawn into a war zone, raid your pond, and eat your pets.
When badgers take over your lawn your best option is to use traps to capture them. You can also repel them with loud sounds, flashing lights, and spray them with water to annoy them. For bait, you could use natural gland lure, fish paste or grub paste in your traps. When you have finally managed to remove them from your lawn, you need to take steps to keep them off your property so they won’t come back.
Because of their aggressive nature, badgers are not easy to tolerate. They pose a risk to your pets, and they’re also known to carry diseases. Besides, the last thing you’d want is to be bitten by a badger that might carry rabies or other infectious diseases. So how do you know you have a badger problem on your property? How do you trap them? And what to do to make your lawn off-limits for these pesky animals? Read on to find answers to all your badger problem questions.
Know Your Badger
Badgers prefer the open plains. They spread all over the western and central states and can be found as far south as northern Mexico and to the north near the border with Canada. Badgers also prefer coastal areas that are rich in food.
Both male and female badgers have a certain musky odor about them that distinguishes them from other wild animals. They like to dig tunnels although the burrows the females dig are usually longer and deeper to protect their babies from intruders.
As nocturnal animals by nature, they prefer to prowl during the night when people are asleep. However, you can sometimes see badgers during the day in remote places where humans rarely visit. A badger litter has about three to five little animals and by the end of its first year, a badger is ready to reproduce.
Badgers are carnivores. They use their digging skills to their advantage. Once they track a ground animal with their keen sense of smell, they’ll keep digging until they find it. In the absence of prey, they might turn to cannibalism.
Signs You Have a Badger Problem
When badgers lay claim to a property, usually the lawn, they leave behind telltale signs that let you know you have a serious problem on your hands. It’s important you know that you’re dealing with a badger and not another digging animals such as a raccoon or a rabbit.
Here are the signs you have badgers on your lawn:
- Overnight the lawn has many dug up patches. Some of them will be holes while others are just turned up soil where the badger was digging for food.
- There’s a hole underneath your fence. Most likely this is one of the entrances to the badger’s sett (its home). If you find a hole under the fence that means your fence wasn’t easy for the badger to climb. Badgers are skilled climbers but if they can’t go over the fence they’ll simply dig under it.
- You might also find a hole with badger droppings in it. Just like the animal itself, the droppings have a strong odor that you cannot mistake. This is the animal’s way to mark its territory.
When you find the badger’s sett, don’t interfere with it in any way. Badgers are protected in many states and messing with their home is against the law. Don’t block the entrance to the sett or throw debris in it either. You’ll recognize the home with the trampled path leading to it and the large mounds of soil outside it that they shifted overnight.
When Badgers Run Amok
Since they like to dig and make a big mess of the lawn, badgers are not welcome visitors on anybody’s property. As soon as badgers smell a meal, they start digging and won’t stop until they have captured the vole or mole or gopher that was hiding underground.
As a result, your beautifully manicured lawn can turn into a wasteland within a few nights after the invading badgers have arrived. And if that’s not enough, your own pets are not safe as far as badgers are concerned. When they can’t find food, badgers would hunt small animals including your cat or dog.
If you keep chickens in a coop, that might be the reason badgers took a liking to your house in the first place. They’ll feed off your chicken to the last one before they turn to other small animals or pets you might keep.
Another part of your yard badgers would raid is the pond. Their eating habits would also include the occasional fish, frog, or other marine life that lives in a small pond. So if you keep koi fish, the badgers won’t be so coy about having them for dinner.
The Best Ways to Trap Badgers
Badgers are territorial animals. They’ll go out at night and mark their territory to ward off other animals from hunting on their turf. This is both good news and bad news for people whose property happens to be part of a badger’s territory.
It’s good news because once you remove the badgers from your land, you won’t get another one for a long time. But it’s also bad news since the territory markings are usually the foul smelling droppings of the animals. Something you wouldn’t like to have around your lawn.
We’ve also seen that it’s illegal to kill badgers or demolish their setts. So that leaves trapping as the best way to get rid of the animals without harming them. Here are some of the best ways to trap badgers without putting yourself or the animals at risk.
Live Badger Traps
Trapping a badger can be a straightforward process when you use the right trap. The trap has to be large enough to make it easier for the animal to enter and accommodate it without causing it injury. The trap has to be sturdy since the badger will use its claws and teeth to escape.
The best badger traps in the market are made from wire which resists rust and mauling by the badgers. Since badgers live in groups, the trap should be durable and can be used to capture more than one animal. To set your trap, make sure it’s installed in a strategic place on your lawn where badgers are likely to visit.
You should choose a trap with a sliding backdoor that makes it easy to trap and later release the animal in the wild. You can also use leghold traps but they need to be anchored to a tree or a log since badgers are strong animals and could simply make off with the trap attached to their leg.
Some traps are easier to use than others. A bottom door trap for example will need to be placed on top of the hole of the badger’s burrow. But a rear door trap has to be installed in the tunnel itself to capture the wild animals. Either way you’ll need to set the badger free once captured.
That process is also simple. You carry the trap with the badger in it and drive away from your home and just let it loose. Keep a safe distance when releasing the animal as it might turn on you.
What is the Best Bait for Trapping Badgers?
Regardless of which trap you use, you’ll need to put a bait to lure the badger in. Depending on where the badgers like to hunt on your property, you might have to choose between the fish paste or grub paste as a lure. For ponds and waterways, the fish paste is the right choice.
Fish are a delicacy for badgers. The smell attracts the animals and fish paste made from real fish will prove to be too much of a temptation. To use it effectively, place a tablespoon of the bait on the trip pan and smear some on the trip pan itself.
If the badgers on your lawn come for the grubs, earthworms and other small animals they find there, you can lure them with grub paste. Use it the same way as the fish paste. Smear it around the trip pan and put some in a cup on the trip pan to attract the badger.
Trapping Badgers Tips
- You can use meat, small rodents, or fish oil as bait if you don’t like the pungent smell of fish paste or grub paste.
- When using leghold traps, make sure to cover them with dirt and leaves as camouflage.
- Check the trap regularly to make sure any captured badgers get released quickly.
- Inspect your trap every so often for defects and tears. Badgers are strong animals and might damage the trap when captured.
- Natural gland lures can be more effective baits when used in combination with meat or freshly killed rodents.
Are Badgers Dangerous?
If by dangerous we’re talking about being aggressive toward other animals, then the answer is yes. As mentioned, badgers prey on small animals in their vicinity. When they run out of moles, voles, and gophers, they’d turn to cats and dogs for food.
Even if you don’t have pets, you might be trying to attract other small animals like squirrels, rabbits, or hedgehogs to your garden. With badgers on your lawn, there’s no chance for such wildlife to flourish. Most likely your lawn will become a graveyard for animals with bones scattered everywhere thanks to the badgers.
What makes them even more dangerous is that their hide is so thick even bee stings or animal bites cannot penetrate it. Badgers wouldn’t hesitate to attack another much larger animal such as a cow or a horse. When you have an animal like that with this ferocity, you really have no need for it on your property.
Can Badgers Attack Humans?
In normal circumstances, badgers don’t like to confront humans. We’ve seen that the main reason these wild animals are nocturnal is to avoid meeting with humans. If a badger sees or senses the presence of people nearby, it would slink away to its burrow and hide there.
But what happens if the badger is wounded or feels cornered? That’s a whole different story then. Just as the badger can attack a horse, it wouldn’t think twice about coming at a human when it feels trapped.
Perhaps this ferocity and fearlessness are what made other animals avoid hunting badgers. Add to that a really tough skin and you can see why they are no easy prey for any hungry predator. No matter how large or desperate for a meal that predator is, it will always steer clear of the badgers. Which is all the more reason humans should avoid confronting them.
Do Badgers Carry Disease?
Like many other wild animals, badgers are natural carriers of diseases and infestations. As they spend a big part of their life underground, their fur is usually home to many ticks and insects which in themselves can carry diseases.
In various parts of the world, badgers have been associated with diseases such as rabies, bovine tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases. Even if it’s a low risk that the badger on your lawn is carrying one of these diseases, you wouldn’t really want to stand around and find out. It’s safer to get rid of the intruders and keep your family and pets protected.
A report on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website found a strong link between badgers and rabies. According to the report, seven people had rabies following bites by badgers. And since it’s not easy to tell a rabid badger from a non-rabid one, it makes sense to avoid confrontation and give them wide berth to allow them to leave the place in peace.
Do Badgers Bite?
As one of the most fearless wild animals out there, an encounter with a badger should be taken seriously and handled with caution. Just as you wouldn’t want to surprise a bear in the wild, you should avoid cornering a badger or showing up unannounced. In most cases, badgers would just walk away when they hear noise or sense the presence of humans nearby.
Even though they are aggressive, badgers also prefer to only show this aggression when it’s absolutely necessary. Such as when they’re taken by surprise or feel trapped with no way to escape. That’s when the aggression shows and teeth are bared.
When a badger opens its mouth and lets those sharp teeth come into view, that’s the right time to beat a hasty retreat. The badger wouldn’t hesitate to sink those teeth in flesh. If you get bitten you’ll need to seek medical help immediately. There’s more than just pain to the badger’s bite, as it might transmit serious diseases such as rabies as well.
What is their Natural Habitat?
Despite the fact that there are badgers in your lawn, that doesn’t mean that sprawling yards are their natural habitat. In fact your lawn might just happen to be on the boundary of a badgers’ sett which is why they show up so often at your door.
Badgers live in large groups or families. Their preferred habitat is the countryside where they can hunt and feed undisturbed. Once they’ve chosen an area, they set boundaries to prevent other badger groups from hunting on their turf. The badger sett usually has many entrances and exits and can cover an area of a few square miles depending on the size of the family.
In other words, if you find a burrow in your yard, that doesn’t mean that the sett is right in your backyard. It could be miles away. Before you set out to solve your badger problem, you’ll need to find out where their home actually is, first.
Do Badgers Carry Rabies?
According to the CDC, badgers are one of many wild animals that can cause rabies. In fact there’s been an alarming rate of discovering rabies among animals in the wild in the United States in recent years. What makes badgers a serious health problem is the fact that they’re both aggressive and wouldn’t hesitate to bite people or animals when threatened.
Other animals, both wild and domestic, can also carry rabies. But with badgers, the risk is higher since they can transmit the disease even before they develop the symptoms. What all of this boils down to is you should avoid getting into a confrontation with a badger where you physically block their only way of escape.
Any bite or scratch by a badger should be taken seriously. If the badger attacks your pet, you should take them to the vet immediately. Rabies can be transmitted from badgers to pets just as easily. And if you notice a badger acting erratically, like staggering while walking or shows signs of aggression when unprovoked, you should call local animal control.
Do Badgers Cause TB?
Badgers are susceptible to a certain form of tuberculosis called bovine TB. It only affects cattle but the damage to any farm can be devastating. In certain areas it is estimated that one of every three badgers have the disease.
Because badgers spend most of their time in narrow underground tunnels breathing the same air as the other badgers in the family, one sick badger can transmit the disease to the rest of the colony. Ironically, that’s how the bovine TB finds its way to the cattle too. The cows inhale the germs in the air and get sick.
Countries like the UK where bovine TB is a huge issue for cattle farmers, have introduced badger culling to get the disease under control. Every year private companies are licensed to exterminate badgers for a short period of time. So far this operation has helped prevent the spread of bovine TB among livestock.
Are Badgers Endangered?
The simple answer to that is no, badgers as a species are not an endangered species. In fact, their numbers are rising year after year since laws were enacted to protect them. So if they’re not endangered, why are they being protected?
The answer to that has to do with the unlawful methods used to hunt the animals and destroy their setts. Some people will set dogs at badgers to chase them down their burrows and maul them to death. Others would demolish the sett with any means possible which can have a serious environmental impact.
In addition, certain badger subspecies are considered at risk. In Canada, the Taxidea taxus jacksoni and the T. t. jeffersonii subspecies are protected under the Canadian Species at Risk Act. California too has considered the American Badger a protected species that should not be hunted or killed. The protection also covers the badger’s sett which should not be blocked or demolished without authorization.
What do Badgers Eat?
The most accurate way to describe a badger is that it’s an opportunistic omnivore. Badgers can just about eat anything that appeals to it be it insect, animal, or fruit. From small insects to small animals and even pets, a badger won’t pass a good meal if it sees one.
Badgers dig lawns and gardens looking for grubs and slugs which live near the root of the grass. Like raccoons, they consider earthworms and leather jackets a treat. This is why they spend hours looking for such earthly delicacies underground.
Animals are the main course of the badger’s diet. Rabbits, hedgehogs, mice, toads, frogs, and mice are all on the menu. Cats and dogs are not beyond a hungry badger’s reach, especially when the other food sources are scarce. Which is another reason you’d want badgers off your lawn.
Fruit trees attract badgers as well. Like we said, their appetite is enormous and their food choices are plenty. Fruits such as apples, pears, plums are a welcome addition to their diet. In fact any fruit which is bulbous and juicy will attract them.
How to Keep Badgers off Your Lawn
But since not all traps will work and you might not be able to capture all the badgers that occupy your lawn, there are measures to take to ensure they exclude your property from their territory. Here are some of the ways to scare badgers away.
Use Sounds and Lights to Chase them Away
As nocturnal animals that spend most of their time underground, badgers are extremely sensitive to both sound and flashing light. Ultrasound repellers are available in the market. Set the device to be activated at night and it will chase away badgers within a hundred-yard radius.
Water Sprayers to Handle an Unruly Badger
If the ultrasound method bothers your pets or other animals you have, then you can use motion-activated sprinklers to chase badgers away. As a rule, badgers, don’t like to get wet. So a lawn sprinkler will chase them off and make your lawn off-limits to them.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare