Any of several stout-bodied carnivores of the family Mustelidae. The eight species (in six genera) differ in size, habitat, and coloration; but all possess anal scent glands, powerful jaws, and large, heavy claws on their forefeet. They have been hunted for their pelts. Known for their burrowing ability, badgers dig for food and construct underground homes and escape routes. They are nocturnal and feed on small animals (especially rodents) and, in some species, on plant material. Because of delayed implantation of the fertilized egg in the wall of the uterus, the gestation period lasts about 183-240 days. Litters consist of one to seven young.
The American badger, the only New World species, is usually found in open, dry country of western North America. It is muscular, short-necked, and flat-bodied and has a broad, flattened head and short legs and tail. It is generally solitary and feeds mainly on rodents. The American badger is a powerful animal that digs rapidly, easily outdistancing a man with a shovel, and it can be a savage fighter when cornered. It sleeps underground for long periods during the winter. Its coat is grayish, with blackish face and feet and white middorsal stripe extending from nose to back. It is 23 cm (9 inches) high and 42-76 cm long, excluding the 10-16-centimetre tail, and weighs 3.5-11.5 kg (8-25 pounds).
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