This odd member of the mustelid family is well adapted for digging. The American badger (Taxidea taxus ) is powerfully built with short, stout legs and a flattened body. It lives on ground squirrels, pocket gophers, voles, and other small burrowers. It has a ecological value in that it turns the soil and provides denning sites for a host of other animals less adept at digging. See below for examples of feet, tracks, gait, and snow sign.

The badger in this photo came from an educational facility that cares for animals that cannot be released back into the wild. Handlers coaxed the badger across a sandy bed to record various gaits as part of a tracking class at an International Society for Professional Trackers (ISPT) gathering.


The front foot has 5 asymmetrical toes with exceptionally long claws--the claws are as long as the toes. Such long claws is very indicative of a serious digger.

The hind foot also has 5 toes. The claws are long but much shorter than on the front feet.


Seeing the feet makes it easier to interpret the tracks. The badger typically has indirect register -- here is a hind foot over top and slightly behind the front foot. The marks of the long front claws are quite visible.


After unsuccessfully looking at a lot of badger digs for tracks or scat, I was finally able to record badger tracks in mud at Slough Creek, Yellowstone National Park. The stride was longer and the straddle narrower than I anticipated. The tracks were characteristic of the mustelids though direct register made it hard to separate out features of both front and hind. However, the long nails clearly indicated a digger.


In December I was looking for wolves up the North Fork of the Flathead in Glacier National Park with a friend when I was surprised to discover badger tracks in snow. At first the pigeon-toed gait and body trough made me suspect porcupine but something was not right. Following the track we found that the animal had investigated holes in the ground and had dug several new holes.


An area used heavily by a badger will be pock marked by all the digs made while feeding.

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