"Bucky" Badger Finds a New Home

May 19, 2006 a call came in to the Nature Center about a baby badger that had been found lying next to its dead mother near a highway.  Being one of the Northland volunteers, I got a call.  Yeah, right, we all thought, probably a groundhog or even an opossum.  But sure enough it was a young badger. 

Even at this young age the baby badger was hissing and huffing and carrying on, acting like a miniature version of how we all expect a badger to act.

A quick reading of the badger section in “The Wild Mammals of Missouri” by Charles and Elizabeth Schwartz brought me up to speed on the species.  One surprising statement was that badgers make good pets if taken when young.  With this knowledge, I knew I needed to be careful to prevent any close bonding or socialization as he grew.

I eventually determined he was between six and eight weeks old.  His eyes were open and baby teeth were just beginning to erupt.  He was definitely a “he” as the sexes are easily distinguishable by their private parts.  He took to syringe feeding of formula right away, and soon moved to soaked puppy chow.  He resided in my kitchen about three weeks before going to an outside cage.  His meals then consisted of puppy chow and cat chow and dead mice, bunnies, squirrels and ducks.

“Bucky,” as he was affectionately known, was just a delightful creature and very entertaining.  From my window I could watch him jumping and rolling around, playing with objects in his pen.  I wish I had more pictures of his antics.  He LOVED his crate/den, and played with it like a toy.  He would push it around and get under it and flip it over and then climb on top of it.  He would knock it around until he had it sitting sideways in his swimming pool.  He would gather up all his food bowls (usually four) and take them into his crate.  He mostly backed into his crate like he would back into a burrow in the wild.  He preferred to have the crate upside down so the air vent holes were at the bottom.  During the hot days of summer he would sit in his swimming pool. 

I had heard badgers were food aggressive, and he sure was.  When I went to feed him, he would chase the food bowls around with his butt until he pinned them up against something. 

He did sleep a lot during the day, as badgers are mostly nocturnal.  He loved to sleep in his crate, but also slept flat out on the cage floor.  I’m probably one of very few people who has seen the underside of a badger on a routine basis!

August 31st Bucky Badger began his big adventure in the wild.  He was released into an excellent habitat for badgers, near a creek running through several pastures with ponds and cornfields and woods nearby.  I already miss watching him play out my window.  Maybe next year... 

 

(Story  and photos by a Lakeside Volunteer.)