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Montana Field Guides

Badger - Taxidea taxus

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Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:
FWP Conservation Tier: 2

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General Description
Remarkably adapted morphologically for burrowing and feeding on burrowing prey. A stout, compact, heavy-bodied animal built low to the ground, with partially webbed toes and long claws to aid in digging. It is the only true fossorial carnivore in North America and thus unique in appearance. A yellowish-gray mammal with a white stripe over the top of its head, white cheeks, black feet, and a black spot in front of each ear. The belly and short tail are yellowish. Pelage is composed of under-fur with longer guard hairs. Because of their shaggy coat and short stature, badgers appear to flow along the ground. Total length: 22 to 28 inches. Weight: 13 to 25 pounds. A heavy-bodied, short-legged mammal with long foreclaws, long fur (longest on the sides), and a short bushy tail; upperparts are yellowish gray to reddish brown, with a white middorsal stripe extending from the snout to the neck or shoulders in the north and usually to the rump in the south; black patches are present on the face and cheeks; underparts are buffy, except for the whitish chin, throat, and mid-ventral region; feet are dark brown to black; head and body length 42 to 72 cm, tail length 10 to 15.5 cm, mass 4 to 12 kg (Nowak 1991).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Other North American mammals of similar size and shape (low flat profile) include skunks and Wolverine; differs from skunks in lacking extensive black pelage, differs from Wolverine in having a white middorsal head stripe.

General Distribution
Montana Range



Western Hemisphere Range

 


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 466

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Nonmigratory.

Habitat
Prefers open grasslands, shrub/grasslands, and deserts. Non-forested habitats with soils suitable for burrowing and support of fossorial prey are favored. Mostly nocturnal, but also active during the day. Efficient digger, digs out small rodents. Dens in burrows of its own making.

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at bmaxell@mt.gov or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Very efficient predator of fossorial and semifossorial prey. However, an opportunistic feeder and supplements its diet with a variety of mammals, birds, eggs, reptilies, amphibians, and plants.

Reproductive Characteristics
Breeds from May through August; delayed implantation; young born in February to May; litter size ranges from one to four.

References
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View WorldCat Record   View Online Publication
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    • Bauer, Delane, 2002, 2002 Four Seasons Wildlife Study. Savage Mine Report, Richland County, Montana.
    • Chapman, J. A., and G. A. Feldhamer, editors. 1982. Wild mammals of North America: biology, management, and economics. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
    • Cross, James, and Richard P. Weckwerth, 1978, Upland Game Bird (and Fur Survey) Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130- R-9, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1977 - June 30, 1978.
    • Cross, James, and Richard P. Weckwerth, 1980, Upland Game Bird (and Fur Survey) Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130- R-11, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1979 - June 30, 1980.
    • Cross, James, and Richard P. Weckwerth, 1981, Upland Game Bird (and Fur Survey) Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130- R-12, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1980 - June 30, 1981.
    • Cross, James, and Richard P. Weckwerth, 1982, Upland Game Bird (and Fur Survey) Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130- R-13, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1981 - June 30, 1982.
    • Cross, James, and Richard P. Weckwerth, 1983, Upland Game Bird (and Fur Survey) Inventory. Wildlife Investigations, Region One. W-130- R-14, Job No. II-1, July 1, 1982 - June 30, 1983.
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    • Econ, Inc. (Ecological Consulting Service), Helena, MT., 1977, 1977 wildlife and wildlife habitat monitoring study, Peabody Coal Company Big Sky Mine. Proj. 161-85-A. November 30, 1977.
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Citation for data on this website:
Badger — Taxidea taxus.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on April 24, 2014, from http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/detail_AMAJF04010.aspx
 
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