Badgers in Sussex

PUBLISHED: 15:21 14 December 2010 | UPDATED: 10:30 21 February 2013

Badgers in Sussex

Badgers in Sussex

Badger numbers are actually increasing these days but their nocturnal lifestyle means you probably have not seen one lately. Mike Russell offers some advice on how and where to catch a glimpse...

Badger numbers are actually increasing these days but their nocturnal lifestyle means you probably have not seen one lately. Mike Russell offers some advice on how and where to catch a glimpse...

BADGERS are doing all right in Sussex; their population is high and seems to be expanding. How do we know this? By the number of dead badgers we see by the roadside. Over the last few years this has become an increasingly distressing sight, but it does at least tell us that, rather ironically, numbers are quite healthy at the moment. After all, there are far fewer dead hedgehogs on the roads these days and their numbers are really declining.

Most people would recognise a badger if they came across one but the likelihood is that you havent seen one alive as their nocturnal lifestyle and sensitivity to humans means that our paths seldom cross. However, as we expand more and more into their territory, badgers are having to adapt to living alongside us homo sapiens, or face being squeezed out altogether.
Increasingly, badgers are coming to gardens to look for food either finding what they can naturally or more likely, taking advantage of the food people put out for them. So much pleasure can be derived from seeing wild animals up close. Mind you, not everyone sees it that way. Disgruntled garden owners get fed up with badgers digging up their lawns, flower beds and vegetable patches in search of tasty morsels. In the depths of winter badgers usually remain underground in their setts, not in true hibernation but more of a state of torpor living off their reserves of fat accumulated during the autumnal feast. Mild spells in winter will stimulate activity and during these periods they will emerge above ground. Females usually give birth between mid-January to mid-March and around June time the cubs may be ready to start exploring the world around them.

Although you may not often see badgers they do leave plenty of evidence of their presence. Setts are quite obvious if you happen to come across them a network of large holes leading to a system of connecting tunnels. They regularly remove soiled bedding from the chambers which usually consists of dried grasses and leaves, and replace with clean material. This cleanliness extends to their toiletry functions as they dig latrines in which they carefully deposit their waste.
Badger-watching is a nocturnal activity, or at least late evening, and requires knowing a little bit about badger behaviour if you are going to stand a chance of seeing one. Although they cant see very well, their sense of smell is extremely acute and if they know that you are anywhere near the sett they will stay underground. Keen nature detectives may also come to recognise the distinctive badger footprints and coarse hairs left on fences.
Badgers occur throughout Sussex but are most numerous in woodlands. One of the best ways to see them is through an organised badger watch and the Trust is running a series of these throughout the spring and summer. A special viewing platform has been set up in a private wood where badgers can be viewed at close quarters without disturbing them and quite often you can get between six and eight badgers together, which is a wonderful sight.
If you would like details of the badger watches, please contact Filma Dyer on 01273 497561 or by email to

Or for other infrormation contact details are provided.

Sussex Wildlife Trust, Woods Mill,
Henfield,West Sussex BN5 9SD
01273 492630
WildCall (wildlife information
service) 01273 494777


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