Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"There be three Badgers on a mossy stone
Beside a dark and covered way:
Each dreams himself a monarch on his throne,
And so they stay and stay"
~ Lewis Carroll, "The Three Badgers", Sylvie and Bruno, 1893
Badgers live in large family groups called a clan, and in a burrow system known as a sett! The word "badger" comes from the French word "becheur" meaning "digger" and is extremely appropriate. Everything about a badgers body is designed for digging. It has massive, shovel-like front paws with five powerful toes, each tipped with curved claws as strong as steel. They can move yards of dirt in minutes, barreling in head first with long digging strokes of the front legs and quick, earth-moving shoves backwards with the rear legs. Badgers have a third eyelid that protects their eyes from all the flying soil, and thick guard hairs in their nostrils and ears to keep them clear of debris. If attacked, they can dig backwards, fangs facing out for protection and disappear beneath the soil in a matter of seconds! Badgers do not hibernate, but will enter a state known as torpor if the weather gets rough and snows are too deep to hunt. Torpor is a deep sleep that may lasts for up to three weeks but does not involve the extreme slowing of heartbeat that actual hibernation involves. Badgers have a well-earned reputation for fierceness though their diet is mostly grubs and earthworms.
The Badgers' Sett
Badgers are a member of the mustelid family (the same group as stoats, weasels and otters). Badgers live in large family groups called a cete or clan, and in a burrow system known as a sett.
The European badger is one of the largest; the American badger, the hog badger, and the honey badger are generally a little smaller and lighter. Stink badgers are smaller still, and ferret badgers smallest of all.
In North America, coyotes sometimes eat badgers and vice versa, but the majority of their interactions seem to be mutual or neutral. American badgers and coyotes have been seen hunting together in a cooperative fashion!
Despite its name, the honey badger does not closely resemble other badger species; instead, it bears more anatomical similarities to weasels. It is primarily a carnivorous species and has few natural predators because of its thick skin and ferocious defensive abilities. The honey badger of Africa consumes honey, porcupines, and even venomous snakes and climbs trees to gain access to honey from bees' nests.
In medieval times, badgers were thought to work together to dig holes under mountains. They were said to lie down at the entrance of the hole holding a stick in their mouths, while other badgers piled dirt on their bellies. Two badgers would then take hold of the stick in the badger's mouth, and drag the animal loaded with dirt away, almost in the fashion of a wagon.
For the 2011 comedic viral video "The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger," which now has over 88 million views, click the honey badger! Apologies in advance. Not for the faint-hearted or those with a fear of snakes.