Feeding badgers in your garden will divide opinion as some people love badgers and others don’t want them anywhere near their homes or gardens.
Feeding badgers in your garden helps to understand these nocturnal animals characteristics and behavior. Feeding them gives them a source of food that they may not be able to find in the wild. However, do not let them become reliant on your generosity and remember to feed them responsibly. If you have chickens or rabbits in your garden, badgers may attack them.
If you want to help out local badger populations, especially during the most challenging times of the year, you can do so. However, it is important to consider the pros and cons and to do so responsibly.
Benefits of Feeding Badgers
Badgers have different strategies and behaviors depending on their environment. It makes sense for them to take advantage of any food offered in an urban setting, whether that it via trash or food deliberately left out.
You should find that they are mostly nocturnal in your area, coming out to feast at night, but you can still enjoy watching them from a safe distance. This gives the animals a chance to feed on a nutrient-rich meal if they are struggling, especially during colder months, and you can learn more about these animals.
If you decide to start feeding the animals in your yard, consider setting up some remote cameras. This is a great way to learn more about their habits and preferences. You can see what they eat first, what they do with the food, and how often they appear. This information can help you tailor the food you put out to their tastes and provide better portions. You will also get to see who else in the area is benefiting from your efforts.
Remember that badgers aren’t as dangerous as their reputation suggests. Badgers are often portrayed as vicious creatures and there are unjust stories about them taking pets because they have been seen eating them as roadkill.
Badgers are not a threat to your cats and dogs. They aren’t going to run in and savage them or take them as prey. Still, badgers will get aggressive to defend themselves if needed. If you were to corner one in a building or its den, it could bare its teeth and lash out. But, they are more likely to run away.
Downsides of Feeding Badgers
While there isn’t a risk to your cats and dogs, who can easily come inside and give the badger some space, there may be a problem in encouraging badgers if you have other animals. Smaller animals that live in runs or hutches outside could be seen as easy prey given the badger’s love of large rodents. Also, there are cases of badgers killing chickens and taking their eggs.
It is also important to feed badgers responsibly. Watch out that you aren’t attracting them to an area that isn’t sustainable. Could they become overly reliant on you but at risk from your neighbors or busy roads? If so, please don’t start feeding them. Don’t try and bring them to your garden to feed them and then get mad if they start burrowing or making a home in your garden.
What Do Badgers Eat?
Badgers have impressive diets and will take advantage of what they can get. Our badgers shouldn’t need supplemental feeding unless times are really tight. But, they will still be grateful for anything offered.
Badgers have a varied carnivorous diet where they will prey on all kinds of rodents and small mammals. Their big claws aren’t just for digging burrows and the powerful jaws can make short work or all kinds of creatures. Depending on their location, you can find them eating squirrels, moles, rats, and similar creatures. They are also opportunistic enough to go for small amphibians and will also feed on carrion when they need to.
Badgers also have a habit of caching food for a later date. This is a great strategy that allows animals to create larders and space out their meals. They can stock up when they make a big kill or find something large, and return to the spot if they struggle to find food the next day. One of the most remarkable examples of this is the badger that buried a calf over a series of nights.
I don’t expect you to leave a dead cow in your garden for them, so let’s have a look at what you can feed badgers in your garden.
What to Feed Badgers
If you have a secure environment and the space for badgers and want to help the local population out, you need to know what to feed them. The badger’s carnivorous diet in the wild means that you need to replicate this with plenty of meat. The best way to do this is to get real fresh meat and leave it out in a bowl. Cat food or dog food is a great substitute and will be a nice meal for a badger. Just make sure that it isn’t processed meat as this can be too salty and may contain other dangerous ingredients.
Another great source of food for badgers, which you may not have thought of, is eggs. As mentioned before, they will happily take nutritious eggs where they can as they are easy snacks full of energy. You can leave some raw eggs out beside the bowl of meat or hide them around the garden for the badgers to sniff out and find.
A large part of a badger’s diet consists of worms. Mealworms are easy to find in most pet stores as bird food, so these can be put out for them. If you can’t find them, you can get these that I use for birds and badgers from Amazon.
Although they are carnivores, badgers will enjoy many different types of fruit and nuts. Again, study which ones they like and which ones they leave to be able to tailor your choices to their diets.
Remember to provide plenty of fresh food and replenish the bowls each night. Just because they can eat carrion, that doesn’t mean they should be left with old meat. There is a chance that the badger won’t return each night, as they may have other gardens and feeding areas to try first. But, if you offer just enough fresh food each night, you can still provide a reliable service.
If you want somewhere to put the badger’s food at night, I use these ground bird feeder trays from Amazon. Badgers really seem to love them. They are also great for birds, although if you have lots of cats in the area, it is best to use a hanging feeder.
Finally, don’t forget to leave a bowl of fresh water out beside the food. Hydration is important, and there may not be that many sources of freshwater close by. Don’t put out milk because the badger’s digestive system will not be able to handle it, and you could make them ill.
Feeding badgers in your garden can be worth the effort. Putting out food for badgers can be a rewarding experience if you start to see the same individuals coming back regularly. You will start to see more about these beautiful animals’ characteristics and personalities and know you are helping them out. Just make sure you can do so in a responsible manner before you start.