What Do Badgers Eat? Their Diets Explained

What do badgers eat - badger eating carrion
© Michal Ninger/Shutterstock.com

Written by Cindy Rasmussen

Updated: November 19, 2021

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What Do Badgers Eat
Badgers are omnivores that eat a diet that ranges from fruits and legumes to rodents, insects, and lizards

Badgers are medium sized mammals that have a head that looks like a skunk, with a white stripe and a body like small wolverine. Like the wolverine they are known to be aggressive and tough. Males get to be around 20 lbs and are a little over 2 ft long. They have a reputation for having a bad attitude, but is their bad attitude because they are just hungry? Probably not, they are not picky eaters and have a flexible diet. Let’s find out what badgers eat.

How do badgers hunt?

Animals That Burrow Underground: Badgers

European badger, Meles meles, drinking from forest lake, reflecting itself in the calm water surface.

©Martin Mecnarowski/Shutterstock.com

Badgers are diggers! Their bodies are certainly created for it. They have long claws and a stout body that is close to the ground. They use their claws to dig up rodents and have even been observed plugging up rodent holes to force their prey out. Common rodents they may hunt include rats, mice and rabbits. Common insects they may dig up include earthworms, grubs and slugs. Honey badgers don’t hunt bees, but they don’t mind going up against a hive full of bees in order to enjoy the sweet bee larvae.

What do badgers eat?

What do badgers eat - badger eating carrion

Badgers are opportunistic hunters that will scavenge when available

©Michal Ninger/Shutterstock.com

Badgers are omnivores and have a varied diet. Their main food source is rodents that they dig up. They also eat a variety of insects like earthworms and grubs and they don’t shy away from lizards, snakes and even scorpions. They don’t eat a lot of vegetation but do eat corn, legumes and fruit. Interestingly the badger is one of the few animals that eat hedgehogs. They can break through their spiky shell with their large claws and sharp teeth.

A complete list of what badgers eat:

  • Rodents
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Rabbits
  • Hedgehogs
  • Lizards
  • Scorpions
  • Snakes
  • Insects
  • Earthworms
  • Slugs
  • Grubs
  • Corn
  • Legumes
  • Fruits
  • Bee Larvae (Honey Badgers)

Do badgers hunt alone?

Badgers are solitary hunters in that they don’t hunt with other badgers but there is a unique relationship with coyotes. It is not confirmed whether they work together on purpose or if they just benefit from hunting in the same area, but how it works is the badgers locate prey underground and dig them out and the coyotes chase them down. Badgers are not fast runners, they have short stocky legs, but the coyotes are quick and can nab the prey as it tries to get away. In turn, coyotes will often chase prey back into a burrow where a badger can access them for dinner.

Is it true that badgers can eat poisonous animals like snakes and scorpions?

Yes! The poison in these animals does not seem to have an effect on badgers; they seem to be immune to the venom. This just adds to the reputation of badgers being tough!

Do honey badgers eat honey?

A honey badger eating

©Erwin Niemand/Shutterstock.com

Honey badgers actually like eating the sweet bee larvae that is found in the honey. But I bet they don’t mind the honey too! How do they avoid getting stung by the bees? They don’t. They will tolerate the bee stings to enjoy the sweet treat. Due to their high tolerance for venom it is also thought that the effects of the bee stings may be minimal. But there have been cases of honey badgers dying from too many bee stings at once.

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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