Badger Types: A Complete List of All Species

Leave a comment / / Updated on: 25th September 2023

The European badger (Meles meles)
The European badger (Meles meles) / DamianKuzdak via Istock

Several animals that fall under the category of mammals bear similar features, including badgers.

Badgers are omnivores that belong to the family Mustelidae, a family of carnivorous mammals that includes animals like weasels, wolverines, and otters.

These animals are medium-sized with long but low bodies, wide feet, and elongated claws.

There are several species of badgers, but many of them share similar features and behaviors.

Badgers typically have large, flat heads that are slightly elongated and have small ears at the top. 

Although the colors of their coats vary, these animals usually have grayish fur, a dark face, and two white lines that run from the tip of their noses down to their backs.

Close up shot of a very young and fluffy badger cub in Springtime
Close up shot of a very young and fluffy badger cub in Springtime / Anne Coatesy via iStock

Badgers are primarily nocturnal and spend most of the night hunting prey.

All badger species live underground, yet each badger family has its characteristics.

According to various sources, there are at least 11 different species of badgers.

However, this article will focus on the eight that are particularly well-known. Let’s go!

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8. American Badger

Two American badgers
Two American badgers | Dennis Laughlin via Getty Images

The Taxidea taxus, commonly known as the American badger, is a species that may be found primarily in North America, from southern Canada to northern Mexico, and the United States.

The American badger usually reaches a length of between 20 and 30 inches.

These badgers also weigh between 14 and 20 pounds, with the males being bigger than the females.

Like other badger species, the American badger has a significantly darker head when compared to the rest of its body.

The American badger has coarse coats of brown, black, and white all over the rest of its body.

While most badgers fall under the category of omnivorous animals, some species are exclusively carnivores, and the American badger is one such species. 

An American Badger walking in Point Reyes National Seashore
An American Badger walking in Point Reyes National Seashore / Yathin S Krishnappa via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0

The American badger is a fossorial carnivore, which means it lives mostly, but not exclusively, underground.

Also, despite being nocturnal, the American badger can be found hunting during the day in areas that do not have a high human population.

This badger species is known to go after squirrels, gophers, voles, etc.

In some areas, the American badger goes primarily after snakes, particularly rattlesnakes.

7. European Badger

The European Badger
The European badger | Anne Coatesy via Getty Images

Scientifically known as Meles meles, the European badger is a species that can be found across Europe.

When compared to the American badger, the European badger differs in more ways than one.

The first is their size. Depending on the season and their access to food, this species can weigh between 20 and 40 pounds.

It is also on record that they usually reach 25 to 45 inches in length.

The European badger has more black-and-white fur, unlike the American badger’s brown and gray.

While both species have similar body structures, the European badger does not have a tail as bushy as that of the American badger.

A European Badger seen in Ahtari Zoo in Finland
A European Badger seen in Ahtari Zoo in Finland / kallerna via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0

The European badger also has very noticeable white and black lines on its face. 

Although all badger species are considered carnivores, the European badger is primarily an omnivore.

Generally, they are considered opportunistic omnivores, and their diet usually depends on the circumstances of their current habitat.

Primarily, these species consume high amounts of earthworms, insects, fruits, wheat, oats, mice, rats, etc.

Unlike the solitary American badger, the European badger is a more social animal. 

6. Honey Badger

A honey badger looking back over his shoulder
A honey badger looking back over his shoulder | Anna-Carina Nagel via Getty Images

Otherwise known as Mellivora capensis, the honey badger is common in Africa, some parts of Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.

This species usually measures between nine and 11 inches from the ground and reach an estimated length of between 22 and 30 inches.

Their size differs for several reasons, but the males are usually larger than the females.

The honey badger is similar to other badgers in that it has a small, flat head and short, powerful legs.

Its muzzle is short, its eyes small, and its ears not noticeable.

The species populations are restricted to woodlands, grasslands, and arid places.

These animals are also called ratels and classify as omnivores and have a ferocious appetite.

Honey Badger in Kruger National Park, South Africa
Honey Badger in Kruger National Park, South Africa / Sumeet Moghe via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0

Honey badgers feed on insects, frogs, honey, snakes, tree bark, etc.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the honey badger is the most fearless animal in the world.

These animals have a reputation for being very aggressive and are known to attack other animals and humans once disturbed.

They are not particularly social animals, but they can occasionally be found with their mates during the mating season.

5. Hog Badger

Hog badger
Hog badger | panida wijitpanya via Getty Images

Also called Arctonyx collaris, the hog-nose, or sand badger, the hog badger is native to Central and Southeast Asia.

The average size of a hog badger ranges from 18 to 30 pounds, with a total body length of 21 to 28 inches.

It resembles the European badger in overall appearance, but it is often smaller and has longer white claws on its front feet, and long white hair on its tail.

They leave their scents on the grass, rocks, and tree trunks to denote their territorial boundaries.

Hog badgers are active both during the day and night, and they spend most of their time foraging.

They are skilled burrowers, making burrows in the dirt to find food and refuge, using their claws and long, moveable muzzle to dig their homes and find food.

A Hog Badger from Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand
A Hog Badger from Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, Thailand / Rushenb via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0

These animals are primarily omnivores, and their diet includes worms, plants, fruits, roots, insects, and small mammals.

Also, there are several subspecies of this badger, making it even harder to track and record the different behaviors of each subspecies.

The majority of hog badger subspecies, however, have been shown to enjoy a wide range of environments, including tropical rainforests, grasslands, hills, and mountains.

4. Japanese Badger

Japanese badger
Japanese badger | rockptarmigan via Getty Images

The Japanese badger is endemic to Japan and is also known as Meles anakuma.

This species belongs to the same genus as the European badger but does not share many similarities with its close relative.

The average length of this species is 31 inches in males and around 28 inches in females. The size of a Japanese badger ranges between eight and 24 pounds.

Another noticeable difference is the color of the Japanese badger’s coat.

Unlike the European badger’s black and white fur, the Japanese badger has more of a browner coat, making its facial markings less distinct.

In Japan, this badger species is called mujina or anaguma, which means “hole bear.”

Japanese Badger at Inokashira Park Zoo
Japanese Badger at Inokashira Park Zoo / image via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0

They reside in underground tunnel systems known as setts. These tunnels, which can be rather large, are used as shelter and to raise their young ones.

Japanese badgers are typically solitary animals; they do not form social clans and do not even pair up during mating seasons.

Also, these badgers are nocturnal, and they tend to hibernate during cold months.

Japanese badgers live in woodland and forest habitats, and are known opportunistic feeders and scavengers that feed on insects, earthworms, nuts, berries, small mammals, etc.

3. Ferret-Badger

The Javan ferret-badger
The Javan ferret-badger | dwi septiyana via Getty Images

As its name implies, the ferret-badger is a badger that looks like it was crossed with a ferret.

These badgers belong to the genus Melogale and are also called tree badgers or “pahmi.”

This species of badger is further classified into several subspecies, and these various subspecies have different appearances and behaviors.

Unlike other badger species, the ferret-badger has a slim body, similar to a ferret.

They are also usually smaller than other badger species, reaching a total length of between 13 and 16 inches.

Some of the most common subspecies include the Chinese ferret-badger, the Burmese ferret-badger, and the Bornean ferret-badger.

A Chinese Badger
A Chinese Badger / image via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0

The most common ferret badgers are those from China.

These badgers are also omnivorous.

They can be found mostly in grasslands and tropical and subtropical forests.

They also have claws that make it easy for them to climb up into trees and even sleep there.

Despite enjoying sleeping in trees, these badgers still dig holes/burrows to sleep in.

2. Javan/Indonesian Stink Badger

The Sunda Stink Badger
The Sunda stink badger | cclborneo via iNaturalist

This badger goes by many names, including the Sunda stink badger, the Indonesian stink badger, and the Sunda skunk.

Unlike other badgers, this species is more related to skunks.

Despite their differences, the Javan stink badger has a similar body structure to other badgers, only smaller.

On average, this species reaches a full body length of between 15 and 20 inches and only weighs between three to eight pounds.

Their coat/fur is typically more coarse than other badgers, and it is usually black or a very dark shade of brown, with a white stripe running from the top of their heads to their tails.

These badgers have short tails measuring just over one inch and are covered in pure white fur.

The Javan ferret-badger in a white background
The Javan ferret-badger in a white background / dwi septiyana via iStock

Like skunks, and as their name suggests, stink badgers emit a nasty odor from their anal scent gland.

The Javan stink badger is primarily nocturnal and omnivorous.

Its food is primarily composed of insects, eggs, and carrion.

It forages for worms and ground-dwelling insects at night by digging through soft dirt with its snout and claws.

It spends the day sleeping in small tunnels that it either digs itself or takes over from other animals.

1. Palawan Stink Badger

The Palawan Stink Badger
The Palawan stink badger | NaturalWorldLover via Naturerules1

Like the Javan stink badger, the Palawan stink badger shares more features with the skunks than with other badgers.

The Palawan stink badger is one of the larger skunk relatives even though it is smaller than true badgers.

Adults range in size from 1.9 to 5.5 pounds and measure between 13 to 18 inches in length.

These badgers look almost exactly like skunks, and they usually have dark brown or black fur all around.

One of the features this species shares with other badgers is their flat heads and pointed snouts, as well as their stocky bodies and strong legs.

This badger species can be found on the island of Palawan, in the Philippines. 

An illustration of Palawan stink badger
An illustration of Palawan stink badger / G. Huet via Wikimedia Commons Public domain

The Palawan stink badger prefers grasslands, and according to the IUCN, it is considered a vulnerable species.

Like other badgers, this species is also nocturnal and omnivorous, and they tend to feed more on invertebrates.

They also mark their territories with scents, and like skunks, they produce a foul-smelling liquid from their anal scent glands.


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