- English: Eurasion Badger
- Scientific: Meles meles
- Spanish: Tejón
- Catalan: Teixó
- Gallego: Teixugo
- Euskera: Azkonarra
- German: Dachs
- French: Blaireau
- Portuguese: Texugo
Mostly nocturnal, crepiscular and secretive (like most mammals here), badgers in Spain are rarely seen unless you actively seek them out or come across a “sett” (the tunnels – tejonera in Spanish) whilst walking in the countryside. In fact, the first sign that they are in the area is very often a dead badger at the side of the road after being hit by a car at night.
A large, robust mustelid, with a small head and wide, short neck, the badger has an elongated body with a short tail and legs with long and tough nails on the feet. The head is white with two bands and black stripes cover the eyes. The body is grey on the back and darker on the flanks. Males and females are pretty much identical though males are often slightly larger and more robust. There are no similar species in Spain so identification is not an issue.
Badgers in Spain, a subspecies?
Iberian badgers were previously described as the subspecies Meles meles marianensis due to a smaller size and pale markings on back and flanks. These characteristics coincide with those of two other Mediterranean subspecies. (M. m. rhodius and M. m. arcalus) and with those of the badgers of southern France. None of the subspecies described in Europe is considered valid so In the absence of new morphological and genetic studies, the Iberian badger should be considered as belonging to the nominate species Meles meles
Habitat and diet
Absent from the Canary islands and the Balearics they are present throughout mainland Spain from low desert habitat in Almeria to high mountain pastures in the Pyrenees often higher than 2000 metres. Badgers are content living in a vaired habitat of deciduous, mixed and coniferous forests and pastoral landscapes with hedgerows and scrub. They tend to avoid wetland areas and those lacking vegetation cover such as alpine and subalpine areas. In the center of the Iberian peninsula they seem to prefer mountainous areas of medium elevation, with pastures and coniferous plantations. In the south (Doñana National Park) they select areas of scrub and avoid pine forests and meadows.
The badgers burrows (tejonera in Spanish) have multiple chambers and entrances with the entire group helping in carrying in fresh bedding and removing soiled material. They also have a specific area used as a latrine strategically situated away from the sett.
As an omnivore, badgers will eat just about anything they find and the varied diet consists of roots, fruits, fungi, molluscs, beetles and other invertebrates. Amphibians, reptiles and carrion are also on the menu. Badgers maximize the use of abundant and predictable food such as the earthworm in areas of the north of the Peninsula. Studies in Doñana national park show that rabbit is consumed frequently. The size of the territory also depends on the abundance of food.
One to four pups are normally born between November to January after a delayed implantation. Delayed implantation, also known as embryonic diapause, is where an egg is fertilized soon after mating but the cub will not be born until several months later. Shortly after mating, the fertilised egg develops into a very early foetus known as a blastocyst. Development then slows down almost to a standstill. Later, shorter day lengths triggers hormonal signals that cause the blastocyst to implant in the wall lining. Once implanted, the embryo resumes its normal development and completes its transformation into becoming a fully-formed cub.
Great video of a badger in Spain
I love this video. The badger obviously knows that something is watching it but its inquisitiveness gest the btter of it each time it runs away. 🙂
In many parts of Europe Badgers live in family groups of typically around four to seven individuals. Here in Spain there have been few studies as to the density of the population but, in general, a set will contain a male, female and this years cubs. If food is abundant then the subadults (last years cubs) may also stay with the family group for a longer time before dispersing to create their own. They have however been recorded across the entire Iberian peninsular as can be seen from this year 2000 distribution map.
Historic and current threats to badgers in Spain
Historically, badgers were hunted for hair to make shaving brushes and in the north of Spain for its meat. Badger fat has been used medicinally for many years (and is still for sale today! Just google “badger fat”)
The flesh, blood and grease of the badger are very useful for oils, ointments, salves and powders, for shortness of breath, the cough of the lungs, for the stone, sprained sinews, collachs etc. The skin being well dressed is very warm and comfortable for ancient people who are troubled with paralytic disorderhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_badger
The Iberian wolf is known to hunt and kill badgers on their territory and of course the presence of bovine tuberculosis can cause problems in the sanitation of cattle herds where culling sometimes takes place. (In England, the hugely controversial culling of badger populations is used to reduce the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in cattle.) Other threats include the use of predator control methods (poison, snares, traps). Illegal hunting can also endanger the survival of the species in local areas.
- Wikipedia has a pretty good article about badgers in general: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_badger
- The Badger Trust is a great resource: https://www.badgertrust.org.uk/
The Grazalema Guide
The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.
The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.