Where do badgers get their food?

Badgers are carnivorous. Their dominant prey are pocket gophers, ground squirrels, moles, marmots, prairie dogs, woodrats, kangaroo rats

The badger is an omnivore that eats almost anything edible, including fruits, roots, nuts, eggs, young birds, small animals, frogs, snails, worms, and insects.

Food and feeding behaviour

The badgers are members of the order carnivora, the flesh-eating mammals. An examination of a badger skull shows that they have the long, pointed canine teeth and jagged pre-molars that are typical of the carnivores. However, their molars or back teeth are rather different from those of most of the other carnivores. Instead of sharp, pointed teeth designed to cut through meat, there are broader and flatter teeth, more suited to crushing insects, molluscs and plant material. This suggests that the badgers are adapted to a more varied diet, and indeed the badgers are in fact omnivorous, and eat a wide variety of plant and animal food. However, animal food sources form the major part of the diet of all of the badger species.

The types of foods eaten by the world's badgers are as follows:

  • Mammals - Small mammals are a regular feature in the diets of the Eurasian badger, the American badger and the honey badger. The American badger is something of a small mammal specialist, and derives much of its food by digging mice, gophers, chipmunks, prairie dogs and other species from their underground burrows. The honey badger often takes larger mammals, including young antelope. Mammals are generally do not form a high proportion of the Eurasian badger's diet. However, in parts of Spain where other foods are scarce, rabbits are an important source of food for this species.
  • Birds - Birds do not form a major part of the diet of any of the badger species. The Eurasian, American and honey badgers are all known to take ground-nesting birds and their eggs from time to time however, and the honey badger will even climb trees to rais the nests of birds as large as vultures.
  • Reptiles - In the Kalahari in Africa, a field study has shown that reptiles form a major part of the diet of the honey badger. This species eats a wide variety of reptiles including tortoises, turtles, small crocodiles, lizards and snakes (including cobras, black mambas and medium-sized pythons!). The Eurasian and American badgers are also known to eat snakes and lizards.
  • Amphibians. It is likely that all of the badger species eat frogs (and no doubt the occasional toad) when they come across them. Frogs are one of the three most important foods for the Chinese ferret badger in Taiwan, and possibly elsewhere.
  • Fish - Both the Eurasian badger and the honey badger are known to eat fish from time to time.
  • Carrion - Just about all of the badgers species will scavenge from dead animals, including those left by other predators. Carrion can be an important source of food for the Eurasian badger during northern winters, when other foods are in short supply. The honey badger in India is known to have dug up and eaten from human corpses buried in shallow graves.
  • Earthworms - These humble creatures are the single most important food item for Eurasian badgers in much of western Europe, forming as much as 60% of the diet. Earthworms also feature heavily in the diets of hog badgers, ferret badgers and stink badgers.
  • Other invertebrates - A wide range of other 'creepy crawlies' are eaten by the world's badgers. Insects (such as the larvae of beetles, bees, wasps and moths, and occasionally the adults), scorpions, spiders and molluscs (particularly snails) are all devoured by most species of badgers. Molluscs are an important food source for the ferret badgers, while the honey badger is well known for raiding bee hives to obtain the larvae, and of course the next item on this list . . .
  • Honey - The honey badger is well named, as it is very fond of this sweet foodstuff. Both wild and domesticated bees are vulnerable to attack. The Eurasian badger also digs up the nests of wild bees, and occasionally attacks the hives of domesticated honeybees.
  • Fruits and nuts - Most badgers will take fruit when it is available. Even the highly carnivorous honey badger is known to eat wild melons in the Kalahari. Fruits and nuts are very important for Eurasian badgers in the autumn when they are building up their fat reserves for winter. Fruits, particularly olives, also form a major part of this species' diet in parts of some southern European countries.
  • Cereals - Eurasian badgers will feed on cultivated cereals such as wheat, oats and barley when these are available.

Roots, bulbs and tubers - Eurasian and hog badgers both dig and root about in the ground

Badgers {Meles, Arctonyx, Taxidea and Mellivora species} are short-legged and heavy-set creatures. Powerful diggers and take much of their food from underground.

The American Badger is a fossorial carnivore meaning much of its food comes from digging underground for mice, moles and rabbits in their dens.

The Eurasian badgers diet consists of earthworms, grubs and insects. They will take small mammals reptiles and birds along with fruit and seeds so are considered omnivore.

The Honey badger eats snakes, honey, the bee's that make the honey and various other insects and mammals.

The North American Badger is a fossorial carnivore. It preys predominantly on pocket gophers, ground squirrels, moles, marmots, prairie dogs, pika, woodrats, kangaroo rats, deer mice, and voles, often digging to pursue prey into their dens, and sometimes plugging tunnel entrances with objects. They also prey on ground-nesting birds such as bank swallow or sand martin and burrowing owl, lizards, amphibians, carrion, fish, skunks, insects, including bees and honeycomb and some plant foods such as maize, peas, green beans, mushrooms and other fungi, and sunflower seeds.