On this edition of Amanda's Zoo Crew we learn about the American Badger.
"One of the distinguishing characteristics when you see an American Badger here in the United States, is that they have almost a square like body shape, with grayish to buff colored fur, but that real distinguishing mark they have is that white stripe that goes from about their nose and extends over the back of their head," said Oxbow Park Naturalist, Clarissa Schrooten. "Then they have those cute little ears too so that's some of the main distinguishing characteristics of an American Badger."
An American Badger will spend much of it's time buried in the dirt.
"That's a defense mechanism," said Schrooten. "If you're looking at our exhibit it will have dirt that she can dig into because badgers are big diggers, they spend most of their time in dens. So she's wallowed into a little spot, but we don't have enough mulch in there for her to hide, partly because we want the visitors here at the zoo to be able to see her, but also because we just don't have enough mulch. This is a natural behavior for her."
American Badgers are solitary animals.
Right now, Oxbow Park and Zollman Zoo are working on a new Badger exhibit.
When it is completed it will be large enough for three badgers and although there won't be any separation, they will have their own space.
The zoo plans to get both females and males.
"A mix and the possibility of breeding is there," said Schrooten. "The interesting thing with the American Badger breeding, being a member of the mustelid family, which includes the ferret, the fishers, the otters, all kinds of weasel type animals they have a similar process to breeding, it's called delayed implantation, or an embryonic diapause. They can mate in the summer time, July and August, and when they mate they'll start to have some embryonic formation happening inside of the females body, but then it stops and it's going to wait until December, and it's kind of a thing where let's wait it out, see what the female's body does."
The goal of waiting is to make sure the female has the space, food, and living situation to support young.
The life expectancy for an American Badger in the is 5 - 10 years. In captivity it's up to 15.
The American Badger isn't a friendly animal.
"They are typically known for being aggressive," said Schrooten. "Our badger will do some bluff charges at us, they like to put dirt on their nose and then spring out and hiss and growl. That's to protect their territory. They have few predators. Humans being one of them but not many besides a cougar and a golden eagle."
The American Badger also has a special ally.
"One of the cool relationships that they've developed, because they're so good at digging into the ground to get to mouse nests, coyotes will sometimes hang around the badger, and badger is okay with it, and they watch the mice run off and coyote can chase better and badger can get them out better," said Schrooten. "So they kind of have a relationship together where they help each other eat."
Right now their conservation status is of least concern.
For more information about the American Badger head to DNR, Animal Diversity, or IUCN Red List.