American badgers and red foxes are part of the very rich biodiversity of North America. Each of the two has its own distinct characteristics, but they also have a few shared traits that may dictate the kind of relationship these animals will have once they cross each other’s path.
This article will focus on the common grounds that the American badgers and red foxes share, as well as their differences that give one an edge over the other. Likewise, in a hypothetical situation where an American badger gets off on the wrong foot (paw?) with a red fox, we can catch a glimpse of who will reign supreme in their face-off.
A Comparison Between Badgers And Foxes
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American badgers and red foxes are mammals that belong to the same order (Carnivora). However, they come from different families (Mustelidae and Canidae, respectively) which set off a long list of differences in terms of physical features, abilities, behaviors, and so on.
Despite these North American animals having different classifications, you will be surprised at how American badgers and red foxes can still be alike.
Where Do American Badgers And Red Foxes Live?
American badgers roam across a vast region of North America, but they are found mostly in the Great Plains. Their location stretches from the central west region of Canada in the north to the western United States, then all the way south to the mountainous region of Mexico.
There is no specific type of terrain where an American badger is usually located. However, they can move around easily in a drier habitat, which is why many of these animals prefer living in dry and open habitats such as grasslands, fields, semi-deserts, meadows, forests, and pastures. There are also reported sightings of American badgers in alpine tundras of higher altitudes.
On the other hand, the species of red fox in North America are scattered across the continental United States, spanning from Alaska to Florida. However, there are reports of a small population of North American red fox residing in the Southwest United States.
Like American badgers, red foxes prefer dry open areas with grassy ground cover. Most red foxes can be found in woodlands and brush fields, although some of them can exist in wetlands.
It is interesting to note that both American badgers and red foxes have adapted to live near human settlements, particularly in rural and suburban neighborhoods. While these areas are not their natural habitat, they have learned how to survive and co-exist with humans using their wit.
How Big Are The Badgers Compared To Foxes?
An American badger measures between 23.5 and 29.5 in (60 and 75 cm) in length. Male badgers are typically larger than females. In terms of height, American badgers stand close to the ground, unlike other quadrupedal (four-legged) mammals. It’s because the body of a badger is mostly flattened with its legs being short and stubby.
The weight of a female American badger ranges from 14 to 16 lbs (6.3 to 7.2 kg), while a male weighs heavier with the upper range up to 19 lbs (8.6 kg). When autumn arrives, which is also a period of abundant food supply for the badgers, a full-grown male American badger can weigh up to 33 lbs (15 kg), while a female can weigh 21 lbs (9.5 kg) on average.
Meanwhile, an adult red fox measures between 18 and 35 in (45 and 90 cm) in terms of body length (not including the tail). Unlike American badgers, red foxes stand high from the ground with a height between 14 and 20 in (35 and 50 cm) at the shoulder.
Female red foxes weigh 15 to 20% less than males. The typical weight range of an adult red fox is between 10 to 15 lbs (5 to 7 kg). However, some notably large red foxes can weigh as much as 31 lbs (14 kg).
What Do Badgers And Foxes Look Like?
The American badger and the North American red fox have their own unique physical features, which make them easily distinguishable.
American badgers are covered with brown fur and as mentioned in the previous section, have short profiles. The head of a badger has a pointed appearance, and it also has a noticeably small size when the length of its body is considered.
The ears of an American badger are short. Its tail is also short, although it may look larger because of the amount of fur that covers it. The color of a badger’s body fur ranges from grayish to reddish. As for the face, you can see a white dorsal stripe starting from its nose, and then going over the head. There are also some black patches on an American badger’s face, while its throat and chin have white fur.
As for red foxes, these animals can be easily recognized for their long snouts and red fur that cover the entirety of their face, sides, back, and tail.
The soft portions of their body, particularly the chin, throat, and belly, are covered by short grayish-white fur. The red fox also has large, pointy ears that are colored black at the tip. Their feet are also black, while the tip of their furry tail is colored white.
The appearance of a red fox’s fur depends on the season due to shedding. During winter, its fur is usually at its densest and longest.
How Fast Can Badgers And Foxes Run?
Do not be fooled by the short stature of American badgers. They might seem like slow-moving mammals at first sight, but they are much more speedy and agile than they look. Badgers move around by galloping. For a short period of time, an American badger may gallop at a speed ranging from 16 to 19 mph (25 to 30 kph).
On the other hand, red foxes can trot at a speed of 4 to 8 mph (6 to 13 kph). When they are running or charging toward a target prey, red foxes can get quite fast with a maximum speed of 30 mph (50 kph).
How Do Badgers’ And Foxes’ Senses Compare?
Like its other badger relatives, American badgers are gifted with acute hearing and sensitive smell. Their enhanced senses are not only effective in locating their food or prey; American badgers can also use them to detect danger, like a natural enemy that has entered their territory to compete for resources, or worse, a large predator who has come to hunt for smaller animals to become its food.
What probably holds back an American badger from achieving its full potential is its poor eyesight. This is due to the animal spending most of its time underground, and also for being nocturnal. Their eyes are more functional in the dark, but their vision is limited during daylight.
Like American badgers, red foxes also possess heightened smell and hearing. These two senses can be used either individually or simultaneously to locate food. However, it is the red fox’s sensitive hearing that does most of the work, as the animal can hear even a quaint squeak from a mouse 100 feet away.
Unlike badgers, red foxes benefit from their excellent vision as well. They can rely on their eyesight to spot their prey from afar. Their eyes can adapt to both light and dark settings, which allows them to look for a snack easily at any time of the day.
Red foxes can also detect and hunt down moving prey with ease. However, there is a little downside: the enhanced vision of a red fox appears to only work for animals in motion. Many experts suggest that red foxes would walk right past stationary insects and rabbits that are trying to hide from them because of this limitation.
What Are Badgers’ And Foxes’ Main Prey?
American badgers are omnivores, which means that they can eat plants in the absence of their prey. However, their bodies are built particularly to hunt animals that are smaller than them.
Badgers prefer going after small burrowing animals such as squirrels, rats, mice, and gophers. Thanks to its sharp and sturdy claws, an American badger can easily dig a hole in the ground and scoop out its prey.
Red foxes are sometimes thought to be purely carnivorous animals but like American badgers, they can also be seen snacking on fruits and grains, so they’re really omnivores. The red fox’s preys of choice include mice, rats, voles, rabbits, amphibians, and birds.
We mentioned earlier that red foxes already know how to survive in areas occupied by humans. Foxes have their eyes fixed on poultry that is raised in farmhouses. They can also simply steal newly-harvested produce to eat.
Their ability to locate and extract food is impressive, which gives them the reputation of being smart and cunning. Hence, they become a source of headache for many farmers and people who keep poultry.
Who Would Win In A Fight Between An American Badger And A Red Fox?
Based on all the information given to us, there is a good chance that an American badger would encounter a red fox in its lifetime. Since both of them prefer to live in open lands, it is likely that one from each group would end up in the same area.
American badgers and red foxes are not the ones to look for a fight just for fun, but like any other animals that found a competition or a threat, they will also not hesitate to act hostile. At this point, we have learned that badgers and red foxes also share the same taste for prey, so it is likely that they will compete for resources when they cross each other.
When a fight between an American badger and a red fox transpires, you might think that the animal with a larger size and more heightened senses would win. Comparing the two, the red fox clearly has an advantage in terms of body length and height. It also helps that the red fox has superb hearing, smell, and eyesight, unlike the American badger.
However, we have yet to account for the behavior of each animal when it comes to fighting. It appears that American badgers are naturally brave and feisty. They will not back out of a fight even if their opponent is bigger. Red foxes, on the other hand, are the ones that are most likely to flee.
Even if they have the physical advantage to win a fight, red foxes will not allow themselves to get hurt in a fight especially when the stakes are low. Although, when a badger threatens something really important to them, like a newborn pup, that is when they will give their all to beat the enemy.
Nonetheless, it is the American badger’s aggressive nature that gives it a slight edge over the red fox to win in a fight.