Most people don’t realize that badgers are making a home in Arizona despite temperatures often soaring over 100° Fahrenheit. In fact, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, badgers have been seen throughout most of the Sonoran Desert as well as at higher elevations.
They are considered a rare species due to their low population in the area but sightings have become more common as populations slowly increase. It is quite a sight when a badger is spotted in its native habitat, scurrying about for food amongst all of Arizona’s diverse landscapes.
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Badgers are most commonly found in Arizona’s grasslands, deserts and semi-desert regions. Of all the places they can inhabit, badgers prefer open or lightly-vegetated areas with easy access to the underground, which makes these environs ideal for digging dens and hollows, and grazing on prey like ground squirrels. One of the reasons why badgers have been so successful in this area is because their habitat provides plentiful amounts of food to keep them sustained throughout their lifetime.
Badgers in Arizona are omnivores, meaning that they eat both plants and animals to get their nutrients. Their diet consists of insects, small animals like rodents, birds, eggs and reptiles, as well as a variety of plant matter such as fruits, roots, tubers and grasses. Badgers also enjoy a range of other food items like earthworms and even deer carcasses they come across in the wild. To hunt effectively in their nocturnal lifestyle, badgers have strong front claws and sharp teeth which they use to take down their prey. All these sources of food allow badgers to stay healthy in their diverse habitats throughout the world.
The fur can vary from white to black, the colour that stands out the most in Arizona badgers is their striking yellow or cinnamon colouring. The pelage often has an off-white underbelly, which adds to its impressive appearance. To add even more interest to it, many of these badgers sport black and white stripes on their heads!
Size, Lifespan and Weight
Badgers in Arizona are usually between 24-30 inches in length, have an average weight of roughly 15-25 pounds, and can live for up to 9 years in the wild. However, some badger species can live up to 16 years in captivity.
Badgers face numerous predators in the wild, but their main enemy is the fox. Studies have shown that foxes are responsible for up to 90% of badger cub mortality and can be particularly aggressive during the spring cubbing season. Other wild predators include coyotes, wolves, raptors such as golden eagles and red-tailed hawks, dogs, weasels and various snakes.
Badgers reproduce by mating with the opposite sex, typically after a courtship period.
When successful mating has occurred, the female badger will produce a litter of three or four cubs approximately seven weeks later. The cubs are born blind and helpless, relying entirely on the care and protection of their parents.
They are weaned between 6-8 weeks after birth and will live in the same den until they are independent enough to move out and find their own territory at around eight months of age. Although badgers can mate year-round, most litters are born during spring or early summer so that the cubs can take advantage of warmer weather and an abundance of food resources before winter arrives.
Desert badgers in Arizona
The desert badger, also known as the sometimes elusive “Honey Badger” of Arizona, is an animal that has managed to survive in some of the harshest environments in the country. These badgers are found living in semi-arid and desert regions throughout their range, forming a remarkable tenacity to life in even the driest conditions. In particular, they can often be found under cacti or other scrubby vegetation near washes where there is extra moisture and temperature coverage.
Are there badgers in Arizona?
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