Badgers and Christmas

Christmas time. It’s that one time of year when everyone becomes a different person. They become the person they want to be all year-long but never quite pull it off. They’re full of good cheer and fellowship with love for family and friends, and even to their fellow-man however much they can’t stand them the rest of the year. A time of togetherness and gift giving and feeling good. All of their problems and sorrows, anger and frustrations, are swept away by the joyous feelings of the Christmas spirit. It is a time of peace.

Unless you’re a  badger.

Badgers don’t care about no stinking Christmas. They’re badgers. They may put up wreaths at the door of their sett and install those laser lights to light up the mound around their homes but that’s only because they think that Christmas is a good time to take advantage of those ground squirrels they favor, and play on their fondness for the Holiday season. Ground squirrels are notorious for loving Christmas. They dress up in little Christmas outfits, they give gifts of gaily wrapped tufts of grass to each other. They decorate their burrows with home made decorations. They hang mistletoe over every doorway. They make a slightly alcoholic beverage that resembles eggnog and get hammered. They sing ground squirrel carols and go door to door wearing little scarfs and ear muffs with reindeer on them. They make a big deal about Christmas.

That’s why the badgers look forward to the Christmas season. They wait patiently for the ground squirrels to ring the front doorbell then invite the slightly inebriated rodents in for a hot toddy or two. Completely taken in by the Christmas spirits and a quart or two of those everclear infused eggnog drinks they love, and of course totally forgetting that they are the badgers primary food source, they enter into the badgers den.

We’d like to tell you that in the spirit of the holidays that they all sat down, both badgers and ground squirrels, and celebrated this time of peace and joy together but we’re talking about badgers here. Badgers don’t change their spots. Badgers don’t care about peace and joy. Behind those festive grins and hale and hearty expressions of brotherhood they’re still badgers. So they shut and locked the door behind the last tipsy ground squirrel and celebrated with the ground squirrels in their own typically badger way. Suffice it to say that the badgers larder was well stocked for the next few weeks.

When the badger above was asked about this unusual but unseemly behavior in a time of peace and understanding, he got a faraway look on his face and appeared to reach back into his memories and said “You know, that was a good Christmas. We invited the rest of the family over for a big meal. We ate until we were stuffed, watched It’s A Wonderful Life on the box and the cubs played with the bones. We all felt thankful for the season. It was a good Christmas.”

May all your Christmas’s be good.

Some Badgers Are OK

2016-03-30SomeBadgersOK8163

We have written several posts about badgers in the past. The earliest one was back in April of 2014 http://www.bigshotsnow.com/fun-with-badgers and more recently in January of 2015 we wrote the expose titled “The Thing About Badgers” http://www.bigshotsnow.com/the-thing-about-badgers/ where we pointed out that Badgers did not make good pets.

Since both of those posts could have mistakenly been considered critical to Badgers and all their relatives and the States that harbor them we thought it was time to give Badgers a little good press. Which is why we titled this post, “Some Badgers Are OK”.

Although we had to do a bit of digging to find good points about Badgers we did find some. For instance Badgers are considered good parents as they rarely eat their young and then only for the best reasons. Badgers like to maintain good order within their family groups. Lining up in straight lines is important to them and having all their offspring facing in the same direction is too.

Biting. Biting is big with Badgers. Everyday when the female brings out the young and gets them all pointed in the same direction in a straight line, she will bite the nearest one. At first this was thought to be an act of rage from a single mother who didn’t like raising children, then we noticed that she didn’t bite them all that hard. It was more of a “We’re badgers and this is what we do.” kind of bite. Of course if the other one snickered at its sibling while it was being bitten she would walk deliberately around to his side and give him a bite roughly twice as hard. Discipline is strict in a badger family. No screwing around during the morning biting session.

Badgers realize they have a PR problem and have taken steps to counter the poor image they have made for themselves. Because they are usually grumpy, snarly, ill-tempered beasts at best they are now trying to change that image to show their better side. In the past if you drove by and said something pleasant to a group of Badgers they would respond with a rude gesture and taunt you with an invitation to come closer and “get your soft parts chewed on for a while, if you’re so damn friendly.” Now however it is not unusual to see the badgers lined up on the front porch of their dens or alongside the roadway waving a friendly paw and offering to show you how they eviscerate a ground squirrel for dinner, or how the young can line up in straight lines without even being bitten. This is a big change.

This movement is slow to being accepted universally in the Badger community however. You will still find many Badgers that have no interest whatsoever in being friendly. These Badgers usually live in the more rural parts of Wisconsin and in the more common Western states where hardly anyone goes anyway, so that may account for the slow adoption rate.

Wisconsinites have been paying more attention to their state animal since we have been running these posts and now some of them can even recognize a Badger in the wild, or as wild as it gets in Wisconsin, and will often stop their vehicles and run up to the Badger thinking it is just another furry little animal that will be nice to them. So when they get out of one of those portable roadside clinics set up by the State to treat those who have not yet learned that all wildlife is not their friend, they will stop and compare the number of stitches they got with the other members of their party, then go home and mention to friends and neighbors that it is best to leave all badgers the hell alone until you find out if they have accepted the new “Let’s Be Friendlier Badgers” program.

There may be other good things about Badgers we haven’t mentioned but that was only because we couldn’t find any more of them. Of course we didn’t look too hard as you’re liable to get really bit if you go poking around near Badgers so we found these few items and called it good. At least no one can call us one-sided on the Badger issue now as we have presented both sides of the subject and look pretty darned objective, badger-wise. Ok then, there you have it. Discuss it amongst yourselves if you need to.

 

 

 

 

 

Today We Are Brothers

The Hunters7833Coyote and Badger hunting together Yellowstone

 

A long time ago before the first people came out of the ground to live on top of the earth, there were other people here that inhabited this place. They were animal people but people just the same. They had spirits and knew their place. They could not walk on two legs but then they weren’t supposed to because they were animals and each was made for the thing they would do best. They could talk and reason and they each had special powers that made them unique.

The coyote was the trickster, the song dog, the clever one and he was very good at telling stories and making the other animals like him. But he also did things that the other people didn’t like such as taking their food while they were laughing at his stories. He did not like to work and used his brain to make his way through life.

The badger was called the digger, and the fighter, for he was very fierce and very strong even if he was small. He thought of nothing but digging in the earth to find the little ones he liked to eat even if it took him all day. Sometimes he would dig and dig and the little ones would run away out of the back door of their homes. They had those doors just in case the badger would try and catch them. This would make the badger very angry and he would fight anyone who came near him. The other people left him alone and before long he became surly and didn’t care about anyone or anything but catching and eating the little ones.

The coyote had watched the badger for a long time. He saw how he would dig and how often the little ones would run away and the badger would go hungry. He thought he saw a way that he could benefit from the badgers efforts but it would require getting the badger to trust him and not fight him. He talked to the badger, but always from a safe distance, you could not trust the badger because he was always hungry and everything is a meal to the badger, even a coyote. He told him stories of other badgers who had friends that would help them hunt and these badgers were always full and satisfied and had time to find a mate and have families.

The badger slowly began to think about what the coyote was saying. It took him a while because his powers were digging and fighting, not thinking, Thinking was hard for him and usually just made him angrier. But soon he was thinking of a mate and having young badgers around him to show how to dig up and eat the little ones. He began to trust the coyote and asked how this could be possible.

The coyote who you can see, was very persuasive, told the badger of a plan where he, being very swift, would chase the little ones into their holes in the ground where the badger could dig them out. Then the coyote would quickly run to the back door and catch the little ones as they tried to run away. If the little ones saw the coyote sitting there as they tried to flee they would stop and go back down into their burrows where soon the badger, who had been using his great strength to dig, would find them and eat them. If the little ones didn’t see the coyote lurking near their back door and ran out into the meadow the coyote would quickly snatch them up and eat them.

As the badger took much longer to dig down and find the little ones, they had more opportunity to try and escape, and the coyote would have more opportunity to catch them with little or no effort. But the badger was also getting more little ones and thought that the coyotes plan was a very good one even though the coyote seemed to be getting the biggest share of the food. He was tricked into thinking this was a good plan by the artful story telling of the coyote.

So that is why even today, long after the original agreement between the badger and the coyote began, long after the first people came up into the sunshine to live on the top of the earth, you will sometimes see the badger and the coyote work together. Both seem well pleased with the bargain, although I think the coyote may be a little more pleased than the badger.

 

 

Fun With Badgers

Badger3041Badger Yellowstone                            click to enlarge

 

Badgers are an enigma. On one hand they are cute, furry, friendly looking creatures that would seem to make great house pets but once you get to know them you see that they are fierce, predatory, angry animals that will tackle just about any thing, wrestle it to the ground and eat it. They do not make good house pets. Especially if there are other pets in the home. So if the kids have been after you with ” Can we have a Badger, please, Can we ?” Just say no.

It has long been thought that badgers should have gotten an Oscar nod for their role in “The Treasure of Sierra Madre” where they were instrumental in moving the story along. When the Mexican bandit leader named “Gold Hat”[4] (portrayed by Alfonso Bedoya) tries to convince Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart)[2] that he and his company are Federales: (courtesy Wikipedia) so they could kill them and take their stuff yelled “Badges! We don’t need no stinking badges!” when Bogey asked them to prove they were really federales by showing them those famous badges, movie history was being made.

The real story is the sound guy on the picture had been hitting the tequila pretty hard with Bedoya the night before and during the filming of that scene stumbled and stuck the mike in the dirt just as “Gold Hat” is saying “Badgers! We don’t need no stinking badgers!” When they fixed it in editing the editor mistakenly thought he was saying badges and the rest is history. Badges was in and badgers were out. Why Bedoya was saying badgers is unknown, perhaps it was a private joke between he and the sound guy. Maybe it was the lingering effects of the tequila. Maybe it was a language thing where the Mexican words for badges and badgers sound so much alike that Bedoya got confused. History doesn’t relate. Regardless of how it happened that line has been quoted by everybody and their duck since the movie first came out. Badgers made that movie. That line is the only reason that anyone even remembers that movie. It was in black and white anyway. Did the badgers get any thing out of it. Are you kidding? About the only thing they got was they were named the state animal in Wisconsin. Big Whoop.

A little badger lore may be in order here. Badgers live all over the place, especially in Wisconsin as noted above and all over the west. Contrary to what you may have heard badgers do not live in New York. They hate New York. I don’t why, it’s one of those enigmatic things. They eat almost anything, wait, I take that back, they will eat anything. Car batteries have been found in their digestive system, but what they really like, and I mean really like, are Ground Squirrels. Ground squirrels are like deep dish lasagna to them. They’re like a hot bowl of chili with beans and spaghetti on a freezing cold day after watching the Packers beat the Bears. If you’re a female just think of anything with chocolate in it. They really, really like them. If you want to find a badger just go to where ground squirrels hang out and follow the trail of pellets on the ground to their dens. Ground squirrels lose all control when a badger is in the area and embarrass themselves as they haul their little squirrel butts to their den. They rarely make it if the badger sees them. That’s why you see trails of pellets. Ground squirrels are very frightened of badgers.

Badgers have been immortalized in literature too, where Badger is a central character along with Mole, Rat and of course the amazing Mr. Toad in “Wind in the Willows”. It’s a rollicking good tale of four animal friends that have amazing adventures together. If it were a movie Badger would be played by Brian Keith when he was younger but would sound like James Earl Jones. There have been lots of other books and movies too like, A Badger also Rises, From Here to a Badger, I was a Teenage Badger, and many more that I don’t recall right now.

So as you can see, badgers aren’t just another pretty face. They’re full of contradictions, inconsistencies, Para-consistencies, ( I don’t even know what the hell that is but I’m sure Badgers have it) paradoxes, and traditional family values. But don’t be fooled, they will still eat your cat if you try and make them a house pet.