Be more Badger ~ calling afresh on an old ally

Be more Badger ~ calling afresh on an old ally

A few nights ago, I caught the end of a nature programme I’d seen before, “Honey Badgers: Masters of Mayhem” and I had an enjoyable twenty minutes watching the antics of captive honey badger Stoffle (he was hand reared, I believe because he was found injured as a baby and couldn’t be returned to the wild). It reminded me of my ties to Badger medicine.

My first proper job after I graduated was in nature conservation, working in the capacity of education officer on an SSSI reserve in the north east of England. One of the many wonderful aspects of my job was the badgers. We had several colonies of them and one sett was perfect for badger watching. Dug into the sides of steep yew woodland, the sett had many entrances and it was possibly for us to scramble down at nightfall and sit among the tree roots and watch the badgers. I’ve written more about it in a post from some years ago.

The European badger is a more reserved beast than the South African honey badger but it shares powerful characteristics. Tenacity, strength, connection to roots are all part of its medicine. According to my usual favourite site on such matters , the badger is:

Keeper of stories, Bold self-expression, Aggressiveness, Single-mindedness, Passion, Cunning, Revenge, Perseverance, Control, Antidote to passivity or victimization, Persistence in the service of a mission, Groundedness, Knowledge of the earth, Earth magick and wisdom, Creative action in a crisis, Protection of rights and spiritual ideas.


One thing it doesn’t mention is the fact that the European badger has the thickest skin of any mammal native to Britain. This means that not only is it able to avoid the kind of injuries creatures with thinner skin might get, it can also move within its skin if pinned or held down in a fight. This gives greater manoeuvrability in conflict.

They also head deep underground during the winter, not to hibernate as such but to go into energy conservation mode, sleeping and dreaming the winter away. Who knows what their dreams are?


I need more of the badger attributes. And I need a thicker skin. I shall Be More Badger.

Badgers’ Bums



Enough of the gloom and doom already! It’s time to smile again.

This is all Chris Smith’s fault (You know who you are Chris), since he set me the challenge. I wrote on my Facebook status that I felt as rough as a badger’s arse, which on reflection was a bad move as I have had endless comments asking me how I know how rough a badger’s behind might be. Then Chris remarked about me writing a poem about it and here we are. Anyway, I hope it’ll put a smile on a few faces(you know who you are, too!)

For the record, I used to work as a warden on a nature reserve, and have more hands-on experience with badgers(bums and all) than most people, though I confess that only a fool would try to stroke a living, wild badger. All the badgers’s bums I have ever touched have belonged to deceased badgers, some of them stuffed and displayed in various places.

Badgers are mysterious creatures and until quite recently not a massive amount was known about their complex social structure because the majority of it was conducted underground. Some bright spark cottoned on to the idea of cameras in setts and we learned a great deal. Badger families are known as clans and are usually matriarchal. An extended family live together in a sett that can often have been used for hundreds of years, if not thousands. They are very clean animals, use purpose built latrines at a suitable distance from their homes and change their bedding daily. A great deal of time is spent on grooming and keeping their fur in order, especially during the long winters. They don’t hibernate but do become somewhat sluggish and inactive.

Badger sows are know to practice polyandry, that is to say, having more than one husband. The chief husband lives and shares the sett bedchamber with the sow, but she has a reserve younger male waiting in the wings, and at some point, the two males swap places. The older male carries on living in the sett and simply ceases to be the top male; it all seems quite amicable…. 

The badger is the largest remainding predator in the UK, being substantially heavier than the red fox. It has also the thickest skin of any animal native to the UK, which is a good half inch thick, meaning it’s also one of the toughest animals around, something that has led to the cruel practise of badger baiting.

I had the privilege many times of watching badgers in the wild, having them approach me to within a few feet, but never dared to put out a hand. They strike me a wise and sensible beasts but unlike otters which continue to play into adulthood, generally they are not playful after cubhood.

Anyway, nature lesson over. Here’s a simple bit of doggerel in honour of the badger and its not so rough bum:       

Rough Stuff?


Badgers’ bums are not so rough:

Trust me on this, I’ve stroked enough!

A badger who keeps his fur in trim

Ensures that no one laughs at him.

It’s not so smooth as kitten fur,

But that’s OK as they don’t purr:

They grunt and snort and sniff all night

And groom their fur so it’s all right.

A badger’s skin’s the thickest stuff

And sure, their fur’s not made of fluff,

But even if you need a shaving brush,

A badger’s fur should stay on its tush.

On reflection I start now to see

That some phrases that are used by me

Do not mean what I’d like them to,

So I shall invent one just for you:

Some things are rougher than a badger’s arse,”

Don’t ask me what, I’ll have to pass!