Badgers in your garden   

Some questions answered
The National Federation of Badger Groups (NFBG) is a registered charity, which promotes the conservation, welfare and protection of badgers, their setts and their habitats. It represents and supports our 83 local voluntary badger groups throughout Britain, provides expert advice on all badger issues and works closely with the RSPCA, the police and other organisations involved with badgers.

Few people are fortunate enough to have a visiting badger. Please treat the animal kindly and do contact the NFBG or your local badger group for further advice or information. (contact details below).

Why do badgers come into gardens?
Particularly with new estates, housing developments may take place on or close to where badgers have lived and fed for many years. Even when measures have been taken to protect badgers during the construction, they may return later.  They are creatures of habit, and keep to the regular places and routes they have followed all their lives.
As urban areas continue to expand, more and more badgers find themselves living close to built-up areas.  Badgers frequently come into the edge of urban areas to forage. They need, of course, to eat.  Increasing housing development may severely restrict their normal foraging grounds.

Chatting over the garden fence!

What are they doing in my garden?
First of all, looking for food. Their preferred food is earthworms but if these are scarce, as in hot spells, they will eat many other foods such as cereal, fruit, small mammals, carrion etc.  In hot dry summers when badgers may have great difficulty finding enough to eat, they may have to look further afield to find food. As they will be hungry, they may then be attracted by food put out in gardens for birds.

How do I know if I have a badger visiting my garden?
Badgers are most likely to be seen at dusk. With their unmistakable markings, they cannot be confused on sight with any other British mammal. They follow regular trails. A latrine pit is also characteristic of badgers. Foxes, for example do not deposit in one particular place.  Badgers can be quite noisy with a range of grunting, whickering and other sounds.

Should I feed visiting badgers?
Many people gain great pleasure watching badgers and their cubs feed. When natural food is scarce, particularly in hot spells, it can help to supplement it with some peanuts or special “Badger Food”*. It is always helpful to provide some water (not milk). Take care, though, that the badgers do not come to rely on you. Do not pander to their sweet tooth!

What damage can they do?
The very worst scenario is that they may damage fences, dig up lawns for insect larvae (particularly leatherjackets), turn over dustbins, climb fruit trees or break their lower branches to obtain cherries, apples, pears or plums.  Badgers are also very partial to soft fruit crops, particularly strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries, and to certain vegetables. They may raid new potato crops, dig up carrots and can damage sweet corn. However, in practice, damage is likely to be little and to occur mainly when normal food supplies are not available, as in spells of hot weather. Badgers are very clean animals. They make latrines to mark their territorial boundaries and seasonally in areas near where they may be feeding. Occasionally, these may be dug in lawns or flowerbeds. The area of ground surrounding a latrine is frequently scraped up. Badgers are most likely, though, to be using your garden on their way to somewhere else, such as pastureland.

For further information regarding Leatherjackets and Chafer grubs, please
click here.

What about my lawn?
Badgers can and do sometimes damage lawns. In extreme cases, they may roll up poorly laid turf, looking for chaffer grubs, or if the lawn if well-watered, it may be a rich source of earthworms. You will see characteristic snuffle holes where they have been rooting around.

Will they attack my pets or be attacked by them?
Badgers are very shy and peaceful animals and although they may have fights about territory with other badgers, they will not attack dogs or cats – or people! They are much more likely to run away. Other animals tend to leave them alone.  (In the vicious activity of badger baiting, dogs have to be trained to attack badgers, and badgers are deliberately maimed to ensure a more even contest.)

How can I keep badgers out of my garden?
First, do you really need to? They are unlikely to be a real problem and can be a source of much pleasure.  If you are determined to exclude them, it can be difficult. First, the badger is fully protected by law and neither the animal nor its sett can be interfered with except in special circumstances requiring a licence. In the case of gardens this has to be issued by DEFRA. Electric fencing may be a possible solution, particularly to protect a defined area, but this may require a licence and can be costly. Always check carefully. Two types of fence are frequently used to deter badgers; rabbit “Flexinet”, or two strands of electified wire placed at 7.5 and 20 centimetres above ground level. In both cases it is important to ensure that no vegetation is touching the fence, since this will earth it, and in the summer months this will require regular trimming of the grass and other vegetation under control.  One major disadvantage in using “Flexinet” in gardens is that although the bottom strand is not live, the first live strand is very close to the ground and fledgling birds, frogs and toads may be electrocuted. This problem is less likely with a two strand electric fence. You also need to place clear warning notices every 100 metres along the fence, otherwise you may be liable for any injury or damage caused by negligence. This still applies even if the fence is entirely in your own garden where the public do not have access. Do not undertake any kind of badger deterrence without careful checking with your local badger group or you may find that you are breaking the law.

What about blocking the hole under the fence?
If a badger is using a hole under a fence, blocking the hole is unlikely to be effective as it will probably make another one alongside. Badgers are powerful animals that can break or dig under most conventional fencing and can climb surprisingly well.

Can I put up a fence?
It is easier to allow the badger access to its traditional route.  A fence that will keep out a badger needs to be strong, usually chain link, and 125cms or more high.  It should be dug at least 30cms (and preferably 50cms) into the ground ad with a piece at the bottom set at right angles facing outwards from the garden for a distance of about 50cms underground.  Alternatively, bending the bottom of a chain-link fence outwards and downwards at an angle of 45° may deter some badgers, but is unlikely to keep out a determined animal.  Gateways and other points of entry need to be secure enough to stop a badger squeezing underneath, through, or climbing over.  Clearly such a fence is highly expensive to provide and maintain, and is impracticable in most situations.

Will they come all year round?
Digging in lawns and latrine use are largely seasonal activities.  Latrine use is most pronounced in the spring, although there may be further activity in the autumn.  Similarly, digging lawns for leatherjackets and other grubs is most pronounced in the late autumn and early spring.  Since these forms of damage are confined to certain limited periods of the year, many gardeners find it easier to tolerate the nuisance rather than try to exclude badgers form their garden.
At the end of the summer, in particular, you may have a brief visit from a badger which is unlikely to stay longer than a week or so – quite often only a few days – before moving on.  It may take up temporary residence under a shed or make a day bed in the corner of your garden.

Who should I contact?
Contact the NFBG for the contact details of your local badger group. There are over 80 throughout the country; they will be happy to give you advice.  Even if “your” badger is not a problem, do contact your local badger group so that they can put it on record.

Further advice from:
National Federation of Badger Groups, 2b Inworth Street, London SW11 3EP Telephone: 020 7228 6444 Fax: 020 7228 6555 Email: Website:

Please remember that badgers have suffered much at the hands of humans in this country. Thousands are still brutally killed every year; many more find their traditional homes, their “setts” threatened by humans in other ways. If you have a visiting badger, it is not likely to be a serious problem, is not threat, and may give you much pleasure in watching it.

We hope you will treat it kindly!