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You don’t need to dig too deep to know catching a glimpse of a badger is a rare sight in Iowa. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not around – they’re just good at keeping a low profile.
Badgers are nocturnal, secretive and spend lots of time underground, so you’re not likely to see one. However, they are counted as part of our annual fall bowhunting survey, so it is possible to see one now and then. They’re found in all 99 Iowa counties, but have higher numbers in western and southern Iowa. You’re more likely to see one of their dens than an actual badger.
These critters are speed demons when it comes to digging, which they do to hunt for underground prey. With their short, powerful legs and long claws, a badger can dig a hole faster than a person with a shovel can. In fact, they can sometimes throw dirt 4 to 5 feet in the air as they dig!
They don’t care
American badgers tend to have a grumpy disposition – so much so that they’re often able to fend off dogs and coyotes.
The other striped critter
A badger’s face carries a distinctive mark with white stripes and a vertical black bar, or “badge” in front of each ear. They’re gray, with a bit of a yellow cast, with black feet and a short, bushy tail.
Most badgers call open grasslands home, but sometimes you’ll find them in agricultural areas or in woodlands.
On the menu
No fruits or veggies for these guys – badgers are strictly carnivores, preferring to snack on rabbits, ground squirrels and pocket gophers. If a hungry badger can’t track those down, they’ll eat all kinds of mice. But they don’t need to wash down dinner with a trip to the creek for water. Badgers get a lot of their hydration from the prey they eat.
While not as much is known about badger mating behavior as in other animals, litters are born in April or May. The young – usually about three per litter – stay close to the den until fall.