Badger cubs are born as early as the second half of December, although the peak period is during the beginning of February, with the majority of the cubs born by early April.
Litter size ranges from one to five cubs, although two or three cubs are most common. The cubs stay below ground and do not emerge from the sett (den) until they are at least eight and sometimes nine or ten weeks’ old. The weaning of the cubs begins with the feeding of regurgitated worms by the mother. Many cubs are weaned by early May and almost all by the start of July, although they may continue to be dependent on, and sometimes search for food with, their mother for some time.
If you see a lone badger cub, here are some tips to help you decide how best to assist it:
- It is unlikely that badger cubs will be seen above ground unless it is at night. If this is the case, then withdraw and keep an eye on the situation from a distance. As with any wild animal, contact with humans should be kept to a minimum and in the vast majority of cases it is best to leave the animal alone. You should leave the area and return 24 hours later.
- If you are concerned that there are no adult badgers with the cubs, leave a supply of dog food and water nearby, and check again in 24 hours. During dry weather, cubs may be seen more frequently during the day, due to a shortage of their main food, earthworms. If this is the case, leaving food out daily, until the next heavy rain, will help them survive this difficult period.
- If the cubs are in immediate danger or there are obvious signs that the sett has been dug out and damaged, then withdraw and contact the RSPCA via our 24-hour cruelty and advice line 0300 1234 999, making a note of the precise location. DO NOT attempt to handle the cubs as they may bite.
IMPORTANT: Badgers are covered by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 which lays down provisions protecting badgers and their habitat. The badger legislation only allows a person concerned for an injured animal to pick it up by hand. If an injured animal requires treatment and can’t be caught without the use of a trap, then a licence would be required from the relevant statutory nature conservation agency.
For more information about badgers, read our Living with badgers (PDF 203KB) factsheet.
Caution:- Handling of any animal either domestic, wild, dead or alive may be potentially hazardous. Obvious dangers include bites, scratches and general hygiene issues. Common sense should be applied in all instances and, if unsure, seek additional advice or assistance. Personal hygiene should be taken into consideration after handling any animal, whether it is domestic, wild, dead or alive.
Follow the links for more advice on orphaned wild animals and legal protection of badgers.