Are American Badgers Dangerous? (To You, Your Pets, and Livestock)

The American badger (Taxidea taxus) is known for its grit and ferociousness. It never backs away from a fight—no matter the size of its opponent. It is so stubborn when chasing its prey as it never stops until they get the food they want. That’s the badger. 

Despite its shy and elusive nature toward humans, it is still considered to be a vicious animal and a threat to people, property, and livestock by many. 

Why does the badger have such a reputation? Should we be wary of these cute critters? Are they truly dangerous to be around? Or are their nature just misunderstood?

Join Floofmania in discovering the assertive nature of the American badger. Together, we’ll learn about the truths and myths that surround the mustelid. We’ll also compare its nature to other similar carnivores and see who wins the fight in head-to-head matchups

And finally, we’ll know if there’s a valid reason to fear them. Let’s get started. 

Are Badgers Aggressive Animals?

American badgers are wary, shy, and secretive creatures. They are not social animals and prefer to be left alone doing their “badger business”. Their daily activities revolve around finding food, digging, and preparing their setts. They won’t go out and show aggression unless deemed necessary. 

Will Badgers Attack, Hurt, Bite, or Chase Humans?

Badgers will not attack humans unless they feel threatened. Their first option is to look for an escape route. They’ll try to dig underground while at the same time facing the source of the threat. Yes, they can dig underground in just a couple of minutes. 

These mustelids do not back away from threats. They will face you and try to scare you with hissing and growling sounds. They will also emit a nasty odor from their butts to keep the attacker at a safe distance.

Badgers will also try to rush onto you if you get too close. These are defensive mechanisms so take them as a warning and keep your distance.

Check this video in which the badger shows all the defensive mechanisms mentioned above:

Are Badgers Dangerous To Household Pets?

Badgers are not, in terms of aggression, dangerous to household pets. Pets like dogs and cats can handle themselves when faced with wildlife animals like badgers. Either the badger or your pet will look for escape routes or the animals will attack each other until one walks away.

Note: Your pet can be severely injured when fighting a badger. Avoiding confrontation is the safest way to prevent any injuries to either animal.

However, the greatest concern when pets come near wildlife animals is getting diseases like tuberculosis which is pretty much a common bacterial infection among American badgers. This disease is zoonotic which means it can cross across different species. Badgers are known to carry (reservoir) the tuberculosis bacteria in the wild.

Dogs, in particular, can get the bacteria from badgers and then become carriers themselves. The consequences can be terrible as your pets may transmit the disease to you and your family as well. It is best to keep your pets from getting too close to badgers.

Will Badgers Harm Livestock?

Exposing livestock to badgers is another story. Chickens, turkeys, ducks, rabbits, and other small animals that are in enclosed coops are easy meals for the badger. There have been reports wherein a single badger enters a henhouse and makes a buffet out of the entire population inside the enclosure.

Very rarely will a badger attack animals that are larger than themselves, however. They won’t attack sheep, goats, or cows unless the animals are very young or too weak to defend themselves.

How To Protect Livestock From Badgers

Badgers pose a serious danger to livestock. Once the badger locates where the food is, it will be back until there’s no food left or you do something about it. Violence is not a recommended solution but there are ways to protect your livestock from badger attacks.

  1. Make sure to protect the coop with steel wire and concrete. Badgers are excellent diggers and respectable climbers. They can also gnaw through wood and dig underground.
  2. Make sure the hinges and locks are tight and secured. Badgers are smart animals and can find ways to open doors.
  3. Remove or clean livestock food at night to avoid attracting badgers. These mustelids have a very sharp sense of smell and will go where the food is at.
  4. Install motion-activated lighting and sound around the property. Light and noise can startle the nocturnal badgers and they will stay away from the sources of the annoying light and sounds.

How Do Badgers Attack, When They Do?

American badgers can be extremely fierce and dangerous when they switch to attack mode. Gone will be the hissing, growling, and chasing around. The badgers will use their sharp teeth and claws as well as their strong forelimbs to latch onto their prey to incapacitate them.

Like the excellent hunters that they are, badgers will employ various techniques to trap and hunt their prey.

Just take a look at these techniques and see how impressive they are:

  • Badgers excavate the tunnel network systems of fossorial animals like ground squirrels, prairie dogs, rabbits, mice, and burrowing owls. They can dig into the deepest areas to trap and then feed on their prey.
  • Badgers are patient enough to wait when their prey goes above ground and pounce on them unexpectedly.
  • There are situations when badgers team up with coyotes and foxes to trap their prey. One will be digging while the other will be waiting at the entrance or exit points to get any escaping prey.

Is It True That Badgers Break Bones To Incapacitate Their Prey?

We have already mentioned how the badger uses its sharp teeth and claws to incapacitate its prey. The badger has strong jaws and teeth that can break the bones of its prey which are smaller animals. 

Its biting strength is also strong enough to break through tortoise shells and tough exoskeletons of insects. The badger can certainly break its prey into pieces with no problem at all.

Do Badgers Carry Contagious Diseases?

Yes, badgers, like any other wildlife animal, can carry contagious diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to other animals as well as to humans.

American badgers are opportunistic scavengers and will feed on carrion and rotting meat if the opportunity presents itself. Take a guess how many disease-causing germs are in that food.

Are Badgers, Honey Badgers, or Wolverines More Dangerous?

This is a “What If” question. The American badger, wolverine, and honey badger are all distant relatives and equally ferocious creatures. All three are successful predators in the habitats they live in.

As a comparison, here is relevant information that shows how dangerous these mustelids can be and how they match against each other.

AnimalSizeWeightDiet/PreyFerociousness
American badger20-34 inches in length25-33 poundsGrubs, earthworms, rabbits, small mammalsFearless, won’t back away from any fight
Honey badgerUp to 38 inches in lengthUp to 35 poundsInsects, scorpions, snakes, rodents, birds, lizards, foxes, and crocodilesFearless. Can fight off 3 attacking lions without a scratch
Wolverine42 inches in length55 poundsCaribou, moose, mountain goatsFearless, has been recorded to take down a polar bear

The American badger, Honeybadger, and wolverine have very strong teeth and claws. These are very powerful weapons the animals use against both prey and larger predators. 

The wolverine, however, is far superior when it comes to weapon efficiency. They are known to break the hardest and toughest parts of their prey into small pieces including hooves, large bones, and teeth.

Their claws are very sharp and are the stuff of legend. The wolverine’s claws are said to shred meat and skin into tiny pieces.

When it comes to resiliency, the honey badger tops the other two mustelids. Its body is designed to take a beating and is able to resist the toxins of most venomous snakes.

This ability becomes an advantage as the honey badger can eventually turn the tide of the battle. Honey badgers can survive dozens of porcupine quills attached to its body while a wolverine cannot.

Finally, the American badger is no slouch either. It may be smaller and preys on far smaller animals than its cousins but when it comes to fearlessness, the badger can give the honey badger and wolverine a run for their money!

Just take a look at this awesome video where the American badger fights off two wolverines.

Too bad a fight between a honey badger against an American badger or wolverine is not possible as they live continents apart.

Overall, all three (American badger, Honeybadger, and Wolverine) are equally dangerous in their own rights. They can hurt any animal as well as humans especially when they feel threatened. Don’t mess with these mustelids when you meet them in the wild.

Author: Jomvie Reyes

Jomvie has been a writer for over 10 years and animals and wildlife are among his favorite topics. Learning and writing about the vast and diverse wildlife from all over the world, is more of a hobby than a job for him. Jomvie loves to watch and observe these remarkable species up close and personal.

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