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The Story Of Wild Animals:
 Story Of The Squirrel

 Story Of The Otter

 Story Of The Civet

 Story Of The Crocodile

 Story Of The Sloth

 Story Of The Tortoise

 Story Of The Ocelot

 Story Of The Wolf

 Story Of The Badger

 Story Of The Hyena

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Story Of The Badger

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

The badger was formerly so common in Wisconsin that the early inhabitants of that state gave the nickname of "badger state" to the common-wealth. In like manner Michigan has acquired the title of "wolverine state" because the animal called wolverine is an old settler near the great lakes bounding Michigan on three sides. Both these animals belong to the weasel family and possess many traits in common.

The fact that the badger is an inoffensive animal, not interfering with man nor the crops he raises, has not saved him from much ill treatment, until the term, "badgering," has come into use. It expresses irritating treatment accorded an inoffensive person or animal.

Badgers for the most part live on the ground and in burrows. The body is stoutly built, the limbs are short and strong, and armed with large claws. The length is from thirty inches to three feet, and the height at the shoulder some twelve inches. The general color is gray, but the head is white, with a black band on each side. These animals feed on mice, snakes and frogs, insects, fruits, acorns, and roots. They are very fond of wasps' nests. The cruel sport of badger-baiting now, fortunately, nearly extinct consisted of putting a badger in a barrel and setting on dogs to pull him out.

The dogs are frequently worsted by the badger, as its bite is terrific, and its skin so tough, and hair so thick, that the bites of the dog do not take full effect.

The power of the badger's bite is caused principally by the manner in which the under jaw is set on. Not only are its teeth sharp, and the leverage of its jaw powerful, but the jaw is so contrived, that when the creature closes its mouth, the jaw locks together as it were, and is held fast without much exertion on the part of the badger.

The European badger is a clumsy animal with a lengthy body and short legs. It lives in the woods, generally, in the densest part of the forest. For its home, it digs a large burrow in the ground and it makes but one entrance to that burrow. In the bottom of the burrow it lays grass and hay and has a very comfortable house in which to live. The badger is a skilful digger and for this purpose was given strong, curved claws. The badger can be tamed and is said to show a good deal of affection for its master. Like the wolf, it treads upon its heels, although its walk is similar to that of the bear. It is said they embrace each other and when they gambol and play utter a cry so loud as to startle one.

In this country, in Canada and Northern Europe the badger hibernates.

About the latter part of October or first few weeks in November, the animal-sleek and fat, enters its burrow and goes to sleep. It remains there until the warm sun of the spring months wakes it, when it appears, but little the worse for its long seclusion.

The fast of five or six months leaves the animal in better condition than are most of the other hibernating creatures when they issue forth in spring. It has been very generally asserted that badgers and foxes do not get on well together, and that the former kill the cubs of the latter. I know of a case where the badgers and the foxes were not unfriendly, and one spring a litter of cubs was brought forth very near the badgers; but their mother removed them after they had grown familiar, as she probably thought they were showing themselves more than was prudent. More than one instance has come to my notice where these two animals have lived amicably together in the same burrow; in one of these cases a fox having annually given birth to cubs in the badger's den.

Within the deep recesses of its burrow, which often terminates in a fork-like manner, are born the young of the badger; the number in a litter being usually three or four. The young are produced during the summer; and are at first blind, not acquiring the power of sight till the tenth day.

When the badger apprehends danger, in order to afford additional security, the mouth of the burrow is blocked from the inside by its occupant. The burrow is always kept scrupulously clean, and is lined with fern and other vegetable substances. As the winter approaches, the old bedding is replaced by dry fern and grass raked together by the badger's powerful claws. This is often left to wither in little heaps till dry enough for the purpose. Partially concealed, I have watched a badger gathering fern, and using a force in its collection quite surprising.

The fur is of some value, being used for muffs, tippets, robes and trimmings, while the long hairs are employed in the manufacture of brushes. The price of a skin is from a dollar to two dollars.

In Australia where many of the animals like the kangaroo, the wolf, the marten and others are fitted by nature with a bag or pouch in which they carry their young, is found a queer little animal known as the bondicot or long-nosed pouched badger. Little is known of the, habits of this animal. Occasional specimens have exceedingly long ears like the one shown in our illustration.

This badger feeds on plants and seeds, and also on insects and worms. Another peculiar species of badger is found in East Africa. It is called the ratel or honey badger.

It surpasses the skunk in the rapidity with which it burrows, and like that animal emits an offensive odor when irritated or attacked. The face of the honey badger and all the lower parts of its body are black, while the upper parts and the back are gray. It is a skillful bee hunter, although it cannot climb. The bees that make their nests in the deserted burrows of ground animals fall easy victims to the ratel.

The sand-badgers, or, as they are often termed, hog-badgers, are easily distinguished from the other members of the group by their longer tails; that of the Indian species being from a quarter to, a third the length of the head and body. The long and naked snout is very like that of the Malayan badger; the eyes are small, and the ears also small and rounded. The body is rather flattened from side to side; and only a portion of the naked soles of the feet is applied to the ground in walking. The coat consists of a full soft under-fur, mingled with long stiff hairs. In color the Indian sand-badger is dirty grey both above and below, with a more or less marked blackish tinge on the back, most of the individual hairs being dirty white throughout their length, but the longer ones on the back and sides having black tips. The head is white, with black bands, while the lower parts and limbs are dusky, the limbs being sometimes black.

It frequents stony ground or small hills among jungle, and lives in fissures of the rocks or holes dug by itself. It is thoroughly nocturnal. In captivity it is dull and uninteresting, feeding on meats, fish, reptiles, or fruits, and it is particularly fond of earth-worms. One individual used to pass the day sleeping in a hole that it had dug, and was very savage if disturbed. When angry it made a loud grunting noise and bit fiercely. It was dull of sight, and its only acute sense appeared to be that of smell. It was in the habit of raising its snout in the air in order to scent any one who approached, much as a pig does. This animal had no disagreeable smell.

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