Badgers have invaded pop culture, from Harry Potter to the infamous Honey Badger video. Why are these little creatures so interesting?
1. They're mustelids.
They're related to weasels, ferrets, otters, and wolverines. Even though Mustelidae are classed as carnivores (they're actually the largest family in the order Carnivora), badgers are in fact omnivores.
2. They have their own homes and their own families.
Badgers live in underground burrow systems called "setts." On average, about six badgers live in one sett, although some setts can hold more than twice that amount. Setts can be centuries old, serving as homes for multiple badger generations. These burrows have separate "rooms" for sleeping and for giving birth.
3. They respect their homes.
Badgers won't bring food into their sett, although they usually don't need to. Most of their food is on bushes immediately outside their homes. They also won't go to the bathroom in their sett. Instead, they use special communal latrines on the edge of their domain.
4. They live all over the world.
Badger species found on the British Isles have been there for at least 250,000 years, but some scientists say they could have been around for as long as 400,000 years.
5. Please leave them alone.
The United Kingdom passed the Protection of Badgers Act in 1992. This law made it illegal to hurt or kill them, and was written in response to people trapping the animals for sport and killing them under the belief that they interfere with agriculture.
6. No, seriously. It's best not to touch them.
They do not like to be touched. You're likely to get bitten or attacked by their sharp claws. If they can use their claws to kill hedgehogs, they can hurt you too.
7. Honey badgers aren't quite badgers.
You've probably seen the viral video, but if you haven't or you just want a 2011 throwback, it's here. (There's foul language galore, FYI.) Honey badgers aren't necessarily considered "true" badgers, but they are fellow mustelids and look to be more closely related to weasels.
Badger or not, they are plenty fierce nonetheless. They eat venomous snakes and tear open beehives. They usually only attack humans if provoked, but they still can be pretty scary.
8. J.K. Rowling is a fan.
9. Badgers were too much for the University of Wisconsin.
In 1948, the University of Wisconsin used a real badger for its mascot at football games. It proved difficult to control however, and was eventually replaced with Regdab ("badger" spelled backwards) the raccoon. The next year, students made a papier-mâché badger head for their mascot, and the rest is history.