European Badger (Meles meles)
It is a large sized carnivore (head-tail length 65 to 80 cm), with a strong and elongated body, a small head and a short neck. The ears are rounded and small. Its snout is prominent and ends in a black nose. The legs are short and strong, with long nails. The tail is short (about 15 cm). It has a dense and large, greyish coat (a mix of white and black), darker on the belly, and with a white head covered with a very characteristic black striped mask ranging from the ears to the eyes. It is adapted to subterranean life and has a great ability to dig and root. It has a very limited sense of view but a sense of smell and hearing that is very well developed. Males are bigger than females with a more stubby body. Females are more stylized and smaller.
Where does it live?
This species is present in a wide variety of habitats but with a preference for forest mosaics with open pasture spaces or extensive crops. It requires soft grounds to dig in, with enough humidity to find food and a vegetation cover. The stream groves and scrub areas with scattered trees and large range of pasture where cattle graze extensively are optimal habitats. It lives from the sea level to high mountains. It avoids extensive crops.
How does it live?
It is an animal with nocturnal habits, although it has some activity peaks at dusk and twilight. One of its favourite foods are worms, but it is an opportunistic species catching also rodents, rabbits and eating fruits, insects and carrion when these are available. They are very sociable and gregarious animals. They live in family colonies, small groups or in couple. The food availability of the environment influences the size of the colony (from 2 to 12 specimens). It digs burrows (badgers nests) with a very elaborate and complex architecture, in which there are breeding rooms, bunks or cradles, pantries, ventilation ducts, exhaust ducts, and latrines perfectly separated from the rest of the rooms to maintain hygiene. The badgers’ burrows are part of the family heritage, transmitted from fathers to sons and are widened and improved in each generation. The colony inhabitants cooperate with each other for a better personal hygiene. The burrow is lead by a dominant male and female and their subordinated descendants. Their territories can range up to 5 km2, and may increase in summer or with the size of the colony. Family clans are very territorial and aggressive towards other surrounding families.
How does it reproduce?
Badgers mating periods occurs from spring to the end of summer. Only the burrow’s dominant couple reproduces successfully. Subordinate females can mate with the dominant male but they often do not have any success in the pregnancy. Males take the female by the neck when mating: being able to hold sexual passion up to 90 minutes. The fertilized ovules do not implant in the moment: they are delayed ten months, so that the childbirth occurs at the end of the following winter. From 2 to 6 offspring are born in each litter (only once a year). The pups do not leave the burrow until they are 10 weeks old. They are sexually mature at the age of one year. The mother is exclusively in charge of taking care of the offspring. Their life expectancy is about 10 years.
Where can we see it in Málaga?
This species is present all over the province, although it is not very abundant. It is more common in the region of Antequera and Vega del Guadalhorce. In the Great Path, we can find it in stages 9, 10, 13, and 19 to 35.
The badger is the most vegetarian of all the carnivores. Its diet includes a large quantity of vegetable matter, from cereals and corn, to the green parts and tubers of plants in general. In Northern Europe, worms are badgers main food, but their Latin name Meles makes reference to a fine product that they like: honey. Badgers are like small bears running after honey and bees, being able to cause damage in corn crops and hives. That is the reason they have been persecuted for years. Their skin was used to make blankets and their fur to make brushes and shaving brushes. However, badgers are architects of nature. Their burrows may be centuries old because they are inherited and can reach large dimensions.
It is an unmistakable species.
Routes where it can be observed
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 09. Periana - Riogordo
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 10. Riogordo - Alfarnate
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 13. Archidona - Villanueva de Tapia
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 14. Villanueva de Tapia - Villanueva de Algaidas
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 15. Villanueva de Algaidas - Cuevas Bajas
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 16. Cuevas Bajas - Alameda
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 17. Alameda - Fuente de Piedra
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 18. Fuente de Piedra - Campillos
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 19. Campillos - Embalses del Guadalhorce
- Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 35. Alhaurín de la Torre - Málaga