Welcome to the world of the badger.

"Badgers? We don't need no Indonesian stink badgers!"

The signpost reads:

A special note to our British guests.

World Population Distribution maps.

North American Population Distribution maps.

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A special note to our British guests
If you have arrived at the Virtual Sett via some search engine and are thinking "Blimey! The Yanks have badgers as well", then I feel duty bound to explain that, like football, the similarity ends with the name. If you've spent any time at this site, you will surely have already noticed the differences in our badger's appearance. Your badgers (Meles Meles) are black with white stripes, and tend towards the slender side. There's more of a family resemblence with the foxes and weasels. North American badgers (Taxidea Taxus) have much shorter legs, and are extremely wide and squat. Their fur is brown-to-silver, with sideburns and a single stripe. The fur is also very loose, making them virtually immune to things such as rattlesnake bites (one of their favorite foods). North American badgers run about 700mm from nose to rump, and usually weigh about 10-15kg.

The physical differences are nothing compared to differences in character and behavior. Your badgers dig laberynthine setts, with many chambers, exits, and tunnels. Many badgers live together in a cete, or community. Ocasionally, other animals with share a sett for a short time. Ours usually just dig a hole or two, and are very solitary animals. North American badgers range over several kilometers, and don't really steak out territories. Any animal, and I include Man, which pokes a toe into an American badger burrow, has just initiated mortal combat.

I have a good friend in the northeast of England who has badgers living in his back yard. They come to his porch, gambol about, and eat from his hand. Here, hand-feeding a badger is interpreted literally. They are not "mean", per se, but they have no fear of any animal, including Man.

Our badgers are also noctournal. This precludes most encounters with humans. This is fortunate, because the badgers automatic response to any confrontation (and you initiate a confrontation with one of our badgers by aggressively metabolizing sugars within a kilometer of it) is to face the attacker with jaws and claws at the ready. While that's enough to discourage even the most ravenous of predators, I'm afraid it's of little use against a set of Double-Eagles. (Double-Eagle is a popular brand of automotive tire.) "The noisy metal animal with the round rubber legs and the glowing eyes" is the only creature that wins one of these confrontations.

Along with the behavioral differences, are vast differences in the badger's public image. In Britian, it seems that everyone is clearly polarized for, or against the badgers. Farmers fear (wrongly) that they spead bovine teburculosis, or that their animals will injure themselves in the holes. Don't even talk about the blood sport's folks. On the other end, many groups and associations exist to help the little fellows out, protect them, help them cross the road, eat well, and get good educations. You either love them or hate them.

I can sum up the vast majority of American's opinion of the badger between the following quotation marks: " ". Most people have never heard of the animal. You will never find a figurine in any gift store, never a plush badger in any toy store, and never one line of ink in any nature magazine. The Discovery Channel has never featured him on any nature program, nor has National Geographic ever done a photo layout. If you buy the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia (95, 96, or 97), and look up the entry on "badger", you will find a photo and audio clip captioned "American Badger"...next to a picture of Meles Meles! The American public doesn't know the animal exists, except for a vague sense that they're dangerous.

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