The European badger is a compact, stocky earth species in the family Mustelidae with a slender head, a trunklike snout and strong digging paws. The snout-vent length is between 64 and 88 cm, the tail length between 11 and 18 cm. The average weight is between 7 and 14 kg, rarely up to 17 kg. Females are on average smaller and lighter.
A characteristic feature of the European badger are the black and white markings on the head. On the upperparts, including the lips and the chin, it is predominantly white. From the corners of the mouth, however, black stripes first run straight upwards and then on both sides of the snout to the back and widening over the eyes and the white-rimmed ears to the nape of the neck, where they become lighter and run into the silvery grey of the upperparts and the flanks. The dark eyes are inconspicuously "masked" in a dark stripe. The flanks may show a straw-yellow hue. The individual hairs of the upper side are light coloured and only dark on the subterminal third. The kemps sometimes reach a length of 11 cm, on the flanks up to 12 cm. The entire underpart including the throat and the underpart of the neck is blackish brown with a particularly brownish tone on the belly. On this and in the groin area, the fur growth is sometimes quite thin, so that the bare skin shows through. Badgers in their first year show the clearest contrasts in colouration, older badgers become increasingly lighter.
The rather small eyes show a dark brown iris and round pupils. The proboscis-like snout protrudes at least 1.5 cm above the lower lip. The front paws bear long, horn-coloured and downward curved claws, which are well suited for digging and are twice as long as those of the hind paws.
The European badger usually inhabits hilly, richly structured landscapes with woods, copses or hedges. Mixed deciduous forests with a distinct shrub layer are preferred. Large, closed forest areas, pure conifer stands, dune landscapes and extensive wetlands are largely avoided. The European badger is rarely found near settlements. Burrows are often made in forest edge habitats and on slopes, often facing south or west. Foraging often takes place in open, agriculturally used areas. These may be within several hundred m of the burrow.
The upper limit of altitudinal distribution is usually 1200-1700 m, but more rarely the species can be found at higher altitudes up to 2000 m in the Alps or 2500 m in the Caucasus. Here, however, there are only very rarely burrows, most of them are records of individual animals.
The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europäischer_Dachs). On wikipedia the text is available under „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“ licence. Status: 31 August 2021