BADGERS
of the
GREAT SALT LAKE PLAYA
 Photo from Paul A. Butler's web page.
WHAT DOES A BADGER LOOK LIKE? 
WHERE DOES THE BADGER LIVE? 
WHAT IS THE BADGER'S ROLE IN THE PLAYA FOOD WEB? 
    What Does the Badger Eat? 
    What Eats the Badger? 
INTERESTING BADGER CHARACTERISTICS 
REFERENCES 

WHAT DOES A BADGER LOOK LIKE? 

 
Photo from Paul A. Butler's web page.
    In general, a badger (Taxidea taxus) is about the size of a pet spaniel.  It has a thick and muscular body with a short tail and short legs.  It's front feet are adapted for digging, with very powerful muscles and long, curved claws.  Their hind feet have claws that are shovel-like.  Badger's heads are triangular shaped, with a sharp nose and short ears.  Their hair is long and falls from the sides.  Their coat is generally a silvery gray that is yellowish white at the base and black with white tips.  Their name refers to the "badges" of white on their cheeks and forehead. 

WHERE DOES THE BAGDER LIVE? 
 

 
 Photos from Paul A. Butler's web page.
 
 

     Badgers live all over the western United States, including the entire Intermountain West.  Badgers are also found in Canada and Mexico.   They are found throughout Utah.  They occur commonly in treeless regions that have soil deep enough for burrowing.  They particularly like open grasslands and deserts.  On the Playa, they burrow into greasewood areas because here the soil is more course and therefore their burrows can remain stable.  They are so common in Tooele County that they are being exterminated by those without knowledge of the benefits of having badgers.  They are very common within the city limits of Salt Lake City.  Their burrows appear in the canyons and on the flats west of the city. 

1. Taxidea taxus taxus   2. Taxidea taxus berlandieri
Map from Mammals of Utah, by Stephan D. Durrant

WHAT IS THE BADGERS ROLE IN THE PLAYA FOOD WEB? 

What Does the Badger Eat? 
         Badgers are carnivores.  They feed principally on small mammals like the vole, ground squirrels, pocket gophers, mice, and occasionally on birds.  Other animals that make up thier diet are tiger beetles, lizards, snakes, carrion.  Badgers are very skilled in their capture of mice.  For this reason they are considered to be benefical to agriculture.  However, they are often killed by farmers and others who think that they are dangerous due to their ferocity. 

What Eats Badgers? 
     In the Great Salt Lake Playa the badger has few predators to worry about.  The badger is very ferocious and the adults are too large for the smaller hawks to carry off.  The young bagders might fall victim to hawks, but this is purely speculative.  Their biggest and most successful predator is man.  Farmers often kill them, even though badgers can be invaluable to the removal of small rodents.  They are also often run over by cars. 

INTERESTING BADGER CHARACTERISTICS 

     Badgers have been called timid animals which is true for the most part.  They are very docile and tend to be solitary except during mating.  Badgers will avoid any confrontation, but when they are trapped away from their burrows, threatened, or cornered they show incredible stamina and courage.  With these characteristics the bagder has very few enemies.  There is example of a badger's strength and aggressiveness sited in Utah Mammals by Claude T. Barnes, in which a man followed a badger's tracks in 16 inches of snow to a place where it met and fought with two coyotes.  The badger appeared to be the victor, because its tracks led back to its den (some 2 miles away) and there was no evidence of blood loss onto the snow.  The Coyotes, meanwhile, had loss of blood and had only traveled a short distance before stopping to lick their wounds and rest. 

REFERENCES 

Anthony, H.E., Ed, 1937, Mammals of America, Garden City Publishing          Company, Inc., Garden City, NY. 

Barnes, Claude T., 1927, Bulletin of University of Utah: "Utah Mammals", Vol.17, June 1927, No.12, Salt Lake City, Utah. 

Butler, Paul A. (1996). The Virtual Badger Sett.< http:// www.qni.com/~badger/ >, (November 1999). 

Durrant, Stephan D., 1952, Mammals of Utah: Taxonomy and Distribution, University of Kansas Publications, Museum of Natural History, Lawrence, Kansas. 

Zeveloff, Samual L., 1988, Mammals of the Intermountian West, University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, Utah. 
 

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 Photo from Paul A. Butler's web page. 

 

This page was completed by  
Jaimie Van Norman,  
December 6, 1999.