As our farm name ends in Barton we decided to call our group the Barton clan.
Badgers live in a series of underground tunnels and chambers called a sett.
We know the size of the Barton clan’s territory (60 acres) with a very good degree of accuracy. Badgers mark the boundaries of their territory with dung pits. To find out the extent of their territory, the main sett is baited with a mixture of peanuts, golden syrup and coloured plastic pellets. These pass harmlessly through the digestive system and are deposited in the dung pits, the results of two such surveys carried out here can be seen on the map below.
What is far more difficult to be certain about is exactly how many badgers are in the clan, and which are male or female.
Sexing badgers is even more difficult. Generally, but by no means always, the male’s head is broader with fuller cheeks than the female.
One of our guests was a leading badger expert, so we asked for advice. He said the only sure way to tell was if the badger rolled over. Unfortunately they rarely do, at least, not into a position from which you can easily tell! However, if you know of an better way, we would love to hear about it.
Members of the clan never go around in a single group. Therefore to find out how many there are you have to be able to identify individuals. Despite being able to get very close to the individual members of the Barton clan, this is not very easy, although we are getting better with each year’s experience. We rely mainly on the shape of the white head-stripe (which have small differences) and the shape of the tail (which can change during the course of the year). This system works relatively well during a single season, but has drawbacks when you try to follow an individual’s progress over the years, particularly when they start off as cubs and change rapidly over the winter.
However, during their first summer, cubs are easy to tell apart from the older members. As we try to get more involved in research, the importance of being able to identify individuals accurately, year on year, increases. Any suggestion welcome!
Mouse over the images to find out
Bearing in mind the difficulties in acurately sexing badgers, the following table sets out the details of the Barton clan membership: