What Does a Badger Eat?

Updated February 21, 2017

Stocky, furry badgers are powerful, nocturnal creatures. They remain within the ground during the day until sunset. In summer months, badgers often emerge before dusk. Badgers do not hibernate in winter but burrow tunnels 30 feet long or more in order to pursue prey. Badgers are often found within the Great Plains area of North America and as far east as Ontario, Canada. Badgers are mustelids, a carnivore family including skunks, polecats and wolverines.

Grains and Vegetation

The foods that badgers prefer are located in open fields near woodland areas. Badgers will eat grains, such as barley, corn and wheat. They eat nuts and seeds they find on the ground, such as sunflower seeds and open walnuts and pecans. Badgers will eat various plants and flower bulbs, which gives them a menacing reputation throughout the gardening population in suburbs with nearby woods. Badgers also eat fruit and vegetables from gardens and fruit that has fallen off of trees, such as cherries, apples and plums.

Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish

Badgers capture prey such as lizards, snakes, salamanders, frogs and turtles with their sharp claws. Badgers also eat fish when they can catch them in shallow, slow waters, as badgers do not normally swim unless it is to get to another area to forage for food.

Insects and Birds

Badgers dig for insects using their claws and their strong noses. Badgers eat larva of insects, such as wasp larvae found within wasp nests. Earthworms are staple foods for badgers, making up 80 per cent of their diet, according to Buckinghamshire Badger Group online. Badgers need 200 worms for strength during one day's sleep, and one badger can consume around 20,000 earthworms in a year's time, according to Wildlife Web. Badgers also prey on ground-nesting birds, such as burrowing owls and bank swallows. Badgers will also eat injured or baby birds separated from the nest.

Small Mammals

Badgers stalk small mammals to consume. Their primary prey are pocket gophers, according to University of Michigan Museum of Zoology online. They also prey on ground squirrels, deer mice, kangaroo rats, moles, voles, prairie dogs, wood rats and marmots, according to the site.

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About the Author

As a former elementary school teacher, Cheryl Starr now writes full-time from Missouri. Her work has appeared in various magazines, including "Teachers of Vision," "Insight" and "Highlights." She is currently writing a novel and a devotional book. Starr studied elementary education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.