If you’re looking to locate and find the natural habitats of the American badger, you’ve got a lot of places to visit. American badgers (Taxida taxus), or just “badgers”, according to locals, are weasels that belong to the Mustelidae family and are widely distributed across the North American continent. They populate locations with abundant food and where the terrain can be used to their advantage.
The American badger is quite interesting. Its appearance and behavior may be similar to other badgers found on different continents, but it has developed some unique features that separate the American badger from the rest.
This may be due to the fact that the species has been left to develop on a single continent for millions of years.
Are Badgers Native To North America?
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The taxidea genus, in particular, is native to North America. Records say that the American badger has existed on the continent since the late Miocene period. That’s 6 million years ago!
Where In The US Are Most Badgers Found?
Badgers can be found in the Great Plains region of North America. Specifically, the central, western, and northeastern US are common areas where you can spot American badgers. American badgers can, in fact, be seen in a majority (26) of the US states.
What Kind Of Environment or Habitat Do Badgers Prefer?
The habitats American badgers prefer are related to the availability of their prey. Before we discuss the kind of environment the badgers love to live in, let’s touch on the types of food on their menu.
These furry creatures are primarily carnivorous but also eat plants and mushrooms, if available. They have a long list of preferred meals.
What Prey Animals Do Badgers Need In Their Habitat?
Some of the American badger’s preferred prey animals are:
- Ground squirrels
- Pocket gophers
- Praire dogs
- Kangaroo rats
- Deer mice
So, if some of these animals that the American badger prey on are living in the area, there’s a big chance, you’ll also find an American badger roaming around.
The list doesn’t end there. There are areas in the US with endemic animals (or unique animals for that area) to which the badger is one of their natural predators.
Take the rattlesnakes in the plains and rocky mountains of North Dakota as an example. Badgers have taken a liking to these reptiles and eat them regularly which means that the American badger plays an important role in controlling the populations of these venomous animals and helps maintain balance in the ecosystem.
Being fossorial carnivores, badgers love burrowing underground to search for food. They easily pursue their prey as the latter scuttle towards their dens. American badgers have also developed intelligent techniques to trap their prey, like plugging the tunnels and escape routes with objects—what a smart animal!
Types of Habitat Where American Badgers Thrive
The American badger can be found in open fields with vast grassland areas. They love creating tunnels under tall-grass and short-grass prairies, fields within forests, and shrub-steppe terrains.
Finding a badger may be difficult, but looking for the habitats where they might live is much easier. They are very versatile creatures and can quickly adapt to their environment.
Badgers have survived and made many areas their home in the US, where the weather, terrain, and local ecosystems are greatly diversified.
As long as they can create burrows and tunnels and have an abundant food supply, the American badger can thrive in that location.
Are There Badgers In My State?
If you’re living in the US mainland, there’s a high probability that there are badgers in your state, even though habitat loss affects their population. While American badgers used to be a lot more widespread, they can now only be seen in protected or rural, less-urbanized areas of the US.
Nevertheless, the American badger can still be seen in at least 26 US states.
There are four subspecies of American badger, namely:
- Taxidea taxus berlandieri Baird
- Taxidea taxus jacksoni Schautz
- Taxidea taxus jeffersonii (Harlan)
- Taxidea taxus taxus (Schreber)
The American badger and its four subspecies can be found in the following states:
Badgers are uncommon in Arkansas, but they do exist there. Badgers were first sighted in 1964, and there have been multiple sightings ever since. They usually live along Crowley’s Ridge in Marion County, but reports indicate they have expanded to nearby areas.
Arizona has a high concentration of American badgers. They can be seen almost everywhere in the state. From Flagstaff in the north, Phoenix in the central part, to Tuscon in the south. The ground in these areas is highly suitable for digging and excavating tunnel networks for the badger.
The American badger is widely distributed across the state of California. The state has vast areas of grasslands reaching up to 200,000 acres.
The Carrizo Plain National Monument, in particular, is a protected area with a rich ecosystem. Here you can find snakes, lizards, burrowing owls, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, and other species of rodents.
That’s a buffet list for the American badger!
In Southern California, badgers can be seen in large parts of the uplands of San Diego County.
There is a fair number of American badgers in Colorado. They can be commonly seen in grass-forb and ponderosa pine habitats. There have been numerous encounters with the critter across urban areas too. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) calls the badger a “nuisance wildlife” as it has been occasionally reported to have destroyed crops and properties and taken down livestock.
Idaho is said to have the largest population of American badgers in the world! The Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area has a large badger population roaming the area. The Back Country Byway, the Camas Praire, and other open areas are also perfect spots for badger sighting.
Having said that, badgers are still in constant threat in the state. No laws protect them, and they are usually at the wrong end of the stick in cases of human encounters. A number of dead badgers are occasionally seen along roads and hiking trails, with no action to prevent such occurrence.
American badgers can be seen statewide. The northwestern and central areas of Illinois have vast areas with sand prairie features.
A female badger can be spotted every 5 square miles, while a male badger has home ranges of approximately 17 miles. They live in pastures, roadsides, along railway tracks, brushy areas, and alfalfa fields.
The southern Illinois areas have fewer badger populations and sightings are rare.
In the state of Indiana, the badger can be seen in 80 counties. They live in prairie-type habitats with well-drained soils. Their population is concentrated in the northern half of Indiana but there have been reports of badger sightings in Posey County in the south.
The species is classified as Species of Special Concern in the state and is protected by state law.
The American badger is found in all 99 Iowa counties. The western and southern areas of Iowa have the highest populations of badgers. When visiting these areas, make sure to look around, and you’ll surely spot one of the dens of these nocturnal creatures.
Badgers are found all over the state and are considered pests. The close proximity of their habitat to where humans live has caused this unfortunate situation. Property destruction and livestock predation has led to some residents trapping and sometimes taking down these poor animals.
Hunting of badgers is strictly prohibited in the state of Michigan.
The state of Minnesota is home to the American badger and two of its subspecies (Taxidea taxus jacksoni, Taxidea taxus taxus). The area’s prairie grasslands and deciduous forest biomes are perfect habitats for the badgers. They fight the cold during winter by lying dormant (state of torpor) underground.
The prairies, open grasslands, croplands, and sand prairies in the state of Missouri are home to the American badger. They can also be seen along roadways, fence rows, pastures, ditches, banks, parklands, and farms in human-populated places in southeastern Missouri.
Sightings are uncommon, and there is no general management protocol for badgers in the state.
The American badger can be found all over Montana. The state is rich in the badger’s usual prey, like the ground squirrel and the prairie dog.
Due to the destructive activities, the species has brought to the community, several actions have been implemented like all-season badger hunting, reduction of their prey, and other measures that are threats to the animal’s existence.
The American badger can be found throughout the state of Nebraska. The state has a rich biodiversity. Mammals, birds, insects, and plants come in all sizes—most of which are on the American badger’s meal plans. The best spots to find an American badger in Nebraska are Lincoln and Omaha.
American badgers are abundant in central Kansas, where many open spaces exist combined with the availability of prey. The alfalfa fields in the state are their home of choice due to the presence of a dense rodent population.
Some of the wooded areas in the state are also home to these furry mammals.
The desert valleys with the deep soils of Nevada are one of the preferred homes of the American badger. They can be seen around the Great Basin Desert of Nevada. They also live along the mountain ranges of the state. Well, as long as there’s food, there will always be a badger nearby.
There are uncommon sightings of American badgers in the White Sands of New Mexico. The area is rich in burrowing animals which the badger loves to hunt. However, its food choices are limited to kangaroo rats, lizards, carrion, burrowing owls, and other small rodents.
American badgers are common in North Dakota. They can be found in most grasslands but are abundant in the prairies. The animal is so common that there is a year-round open season for hunting them. Badgers are among the most hunted animals in the state.
Most of Ohio’s American badger populations are concentrated in the northwest and west-central sections of the state. Badgers are not native to Ohio, and there were no reported sightings until the late 1800s. The current population in the state is said to be the offspring of migrant badgers from the central plains.
The state’s conversion of thick forests into agricultural lands had also played a role in the territorial expansion and population growth of badger populations in Ohio.
The American badger can be found in the central and western areas of Oklahoma. . They can be seen in agricultural areas where the soil is deep and ideal for burrow-digging. With very close proximities between the badger habitats to where humans live, occasional run-ins with the animal are not rare.
In Oregon, American badgers live throughout the region east of the Cascade Range and Jackson County.
Their favorite habitat in the state is the low desert valleys and the lower alpine areas. These locations are where other small mammals and birds also live. Wherever there is prey, a badger is surely just sniffing around the corner.
In Oregon, the badger is classified as an unprotected animal and can be hunted without repercussion.
The open grasslands across the state of South Dakota are among the primary habitats of American badgers. An interesting thing in this area is that the dens of badgers and their burrowing prey are abundant and can be close to one another.
As the badger’s tunnels are so vast and complex, it’s not surprising for other animals to stay a night or two. They just have to be careful not to oversleep, or they’ll be on the badger’s plate the next day.
The badger is the most important predator of prairie rattlesnakes in South Dakota.
The state of Tennessee is a great place to live if you love wildlife. Over 85 areas in the state are classified as wildlife habitats and protected by law.
The Great Smoky Mountains is the perfect place for hiking and meeting an American badger and other animals on occasion.
The American badger can be found all over Texas except the farthest eastern ridge. The prairies, desert regions, and large tracts of open uncultivated land are its areas of residencies are all places where the American badger thrives.
Badgers play an essential role in the state’s ecosystem. The species helps control the rodent and insect populations that pose a more significant threat to crops in the area.
The shrub-steppe areas of Utah have an estimated density of one American badger per square mile. You can quite easily find this mustelid in the grasslands and deserts of Utah. The state classifies the badger as a furbearer and seasonal hunting of the species is allowed without the need of a license.
These grumpy animals are mostly found in the eastern parts of the state of Washington, where the area features grasslands, meadows, sagebrush, grassy bald spots, and semi-desert. American badgers can also be found in open forests, specifically, the Ponderosa Pine.
Other areas with large populations of badgers include the Steppe, Ponderosa Oak, Grand Fir, and High Basalt Ridge.
Despite being known as the “Badger State”, there was but one confirmed American badger population in the state until recently. There have been reported encounters with the elusive animal in the past, but their exact number and location remain unknown. The American badger is a protected species in the state of Wisconsin.
Badgers can be easily found in the open deserts and plains of Wyoming.
They can also be found in timber stands and, on some occasions, above the treeline if you’re wondering what made the badger live in such unusual places, of course, the food! The mountains of Wyoming have a large population of Pikas.
US States Where There Aren’t Any Badgers
All the other US states not mentioned above have no confirmed, much less any reported sighting of American badgers in the wild.
The American states which have no badgers are:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Are There American Badgers In Canada?
American badgers live in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
They also have a concentrated population in southwestern parts of Ontario. Another group of badgers can be found in northwestern Ontario in the Thunder Bay and Rainy River Districts.
Are There American Badgers In Latin and South America?
American badgers mostly live in the North American continent but can also be seen in Mexico, where there are frequent sightings of the animal. They can be found in the mountainous regions of the northern and central parts of the country.
The local term used for this species is “tialcoyote”. The term “tejon” is often used to mistakenly describe the badger and coatis.
On the other hand, there are no American badgers in Latin America. They have a different species of honey badger called the Greater grison.
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.