I’ve been exploring my fascination of badgers, and why I keep getting the urge to spend perfectly good evenings sitting in a wood watching them. In Part 1, I decided that badgers are impressive beasts, and that their size and wildness make them something special in Britain.
My next reason is quite simple: badgers are fun. This may seem like a trite comment, but it isn’t. Badgers, to me, are far more interesting than a lot of the UK’s wildlife.
Badgers are social animals. They live in family groups, which is unusual for UK mammals, particularly because badgers are social carnivores. Can you think of any other carnivores that live in social groups? Lions, wolves, hyenas perhaps. Maybe wild dogs. The fact is that there aren’t that many, and certainly not in the UK.
This means that by watching badgers you can observe and study a whole range of behaviours that you do not see with other animals. You get to see how they interact with each other, how the group stays together, how dominance is established and how relationships are reinforced. You can watch the cubs grow up in the family, and the way that different badgers react to them. And this is my point – badgers do things! For someone like me who is curious about animals, no other species offers so rich and deep an opportunity for study.
Other animals, although interesting, seem a little bland by comparison. Take rabbits, for instance. I watched rabbits for a couple of hours last night, and they hopped about a bit, nibbled some grass, and occasionally stood up to have a good look round. I’m not saying that rabbits are not a worthwhile species to study – I’ve read Lockley’s The Private Life of the Rabbit and I’m sure that they have hidden secrets – but to me they are just not as rewarding.
So there is another reason for watching badgers. Not only are they physically impressive and intriguing in their wildness, but they repay the dedicated watcher with a truly rich and detailed family life.