Early Spring is a particularly busy time for the Badgers social life and an array of different social behaviors have emerged. The Badgers at the hide have become especially animated and interactive during the past week exhibiting a whole host of different behaviors such as; scent marking, grooming, chasing, and grunting. The female sows, recently emerged from the birthing period in February, have become especially enticing to the boars and this has heightened the intensity and frequency of interactions between all the members of the clan. At the hide, we have had the opportunity to catch a glimpse at the complex social dynamics between each of the different members. It is a very rewarding time to observe the Badgers at play
Badgers have evolved to live in social groups as this increases their chances of survival and reproductive success. To maintain the peace and prosperity of the clan a social structure must be established in order for the group to thrive. This structure takes on an organised hierarchy with dominant boars and sows at the top of the pecking order and subsequent submissive members following underneath. This hierarchical structure directly affects the way in which each member interacts with one another.
This week the dominant boar has been taking the occasional break from foraging in order to spend some time grooming one of the females. This was followed by the pair scent-marking one another. In doing this the members of the clan carry the same scent and are marked as belonging to the group. These gestures help the Badgers to understand and re-establish their social standing as well as their sense of belonging to the clan.
Other seemingly less friendly gestures are as equally important for maintaining a socially successful clan. Often whilst feeding, a Badger may grunt and chase away another- occasionally nipping at the neck- if they happen to cross into their feeding space. These are important moments for the Badgers that allow them to reaffirm the social status and what is acceptable behavior. Furthermore, these short outbursts are often met with a passive response as the purpose is not to attack but to establish relationships in an energy-conserving manner and without descending into a full-blown fight. Therefore, they are able to focus their energy on other activities such as digging, foraging, and mating while maintaining an interactive and happy clan home. The comfort the Badgers find in living in such close quarters and in meeting out during foraging sessions is only possible because of the disputes and interactions that help them to establish order and peace.
If you are able to visit us in the Cairngorms, visit our website for details on how to book a night at the hide. Follow us on Facebook for updates and live streams at the wildlife hide.