Can Badgers Climb Trees? [Answered]

Photo: Eumates / Shutterstock

Badgers primarily live in and on the ground as they mark their territory, hunt for prey and food, and raise families.

Yet, their powerfully built bodies and sharp claws give them not only the ability to dig but to climb.

Badgers can climb trees and will do so to gain access to food or territory. In particular, badgers eat honey from bees’ nests and climb trees or fences to get to gardens or fruit. Badgers also mark their territory surrounding their dens and may climb trees to gain access to create this invisible, yet scent-filled border.

Let’s take a closer look at how and why they climb, as well as the threats to their livelihoods.

Can Badgers Climb?

Badgers are carnivores, belonging to the Mustelidae family, which includes otters, ferrets, weasels, minks, and polecats. They can be found all over the world such as in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

The most common badgers are the European (Meles meles), North American (Taxidea taxus), and honey (Mellivora capensis).

Climbing Capabilities

Even though badgers create an elaborate system of tunnels for their burrows underground, called setts, they can also climb tree trunks.

Badgers can climb with their distinctively stocky bodies, non-retractable sharp claws, broad feet, and short legs. 

Some badgers have weasel-like elongated bodies that allow them to twist and turn to traverse across terrain and obstacles, as well as squeeze through small gaps. 

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They can also swim well, showing their capability of moving across different terrains and areas.

Not only can they climb trees, but they can also dig under fences, or climb over wire ones or those with a textured surface gaining a foothold.

Why Do Badgers Climb?

Food is generally the primary motivation for climbing. However, they may also climb to gain access to territory or as part of a defensive strategy.

For Food

Badgers are classified as carnivores or omnivores, with their diet varying by habitat and species. These creatures need to feed their families, and will climb and patrol to find food sources. 

Their powerful jaws, excellent hearing and smell, and hunting instinct lead them to prey such as rabbits, porcupines, and snakes as well as opportunistic sources such as roadkill. 

They will also dig and climb to eat earthworms, frogs, rodents, eggs, birds, seeds, fruit, and berries. Badgers will even climb trees to get honey from bees’ nests.

Badgers generally forage at night but can be seen during the day as well depending upon the availability of food sources.

To Mark Territory

Badgers mark and guard the territory surrounding their homes. 

Their dens are used for sleeping and catching and storing prey. 

They dig holes and defecate away from their burrows. They will mark with urine, and release a musky odor from their anal glands to tell other badgers and animals not to enter. 

If they need to climb a tree to gain access to another area they will do so. 

Some badgers are loners and others will coexist with each other or other species. For example, Eurasian badgers may share their dens, and the American badger has a hunting relationship with coyotes. 

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Males will also fight each other to gain dominance over a territory.

For Defense

Badgers are built tough with powerful bodies, strong jaws, and thick skin. 

They will fight predators much bigger than themselves such as bears, coyotes, and wolves to protect their mate, den, and themselves. 

During these battles, a badger may climb for escape or a better vantage point. They also use vocalizations such as snarls, hisses, and growls when fighting.

Badgers will also climb trees or fences to escape people, including wildlife rescuers.

Risks To Badgers

Agriculture and housing developments are a threat to the habitats of badgers. 

Badgers may eat poison designed to keep other animals, such as coyotes, away. 

Construction takes away the habitat and food sources that they require. They get hit by cars as they attempt to grab roadkill.

From the 1960s to the 1980s badgers were eliminated due to concerns about their role in the transmission and spread of rabies and tuberculosis. As a result, some species, such as the American badger, are endangered.

Additionally, traps set up by farmers and apiculturists (beekeepers) have decreased the badger population. These farmers are trying to maintain their farming livelihood by keeping the badgers away from their animals and crops.

Badgers may also be trapped and killed for their use in traditional medicine. In areas, such as Middle Asia and the Mediterranean, some species are legally protected from being used for this purpose.

In Conclusion 

Badgers spend the majority of their time on the ground and in burrows, foraging for food and defending their territory.

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However, they are capable of climbing with their strong and powerful bodies and claws. 

They primarily climb to seek access to food sources such as eggs, honey, insects, and fruit. Badgers may also climb to gain defensive advantages and to mark territory.

James Ball

James has had a lifelong passion for animals and nature, tracing back to his childhood where he first began fostering intimate knowledge and connection with pet frogs and snakes. He has since honed this interest into a career as a trained Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Biogeography, sustainability and conservation. In addition to his professional pursuits, James maintains an active lifestyle, regularly indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking, and musical pursuits like playing piano and swimming.

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