31
Mar 05

THE FT TOP 25 ANIMALS – 8. Badgers

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The badger is the grumpy symbol of British wildlife, earned through its position as 70s/80s TV staple. The black and white stripes of the woodland monarch remind all true Brits of long hours spent rubbing up next to Terry Nutkins in the dank proving ground of the hide. In a filmed sense.

I actually went on a badgerwatch once and it was terry-rific. It involves sitting for several hours in a felt contraption which artificially heightens your perceptions of the animal world around you, and also gets you so enormously cold and numbed that when a mammal does appear you count it as a supreme miracle: this is how cults get people involved I believe. For the badger it’s all in a night’s work – emerge from sett, rootle in undergrowth, jump over log looking for worms and grubs. (Badgers eat over 200 worms every day!). So many badgers did this exact same thing that I started to wonder if they weren’t trained badgers just going back down another hole and round again.

At Kew Gardens there is a HUMAN-SIZE BADGER SETT which I have written about before. It is terrific and has almost inexhaustible power to fascinate children. Going on the badgerwatch reminds you of what an odd little animal these miniature dog-bear-zebra things are: if it came from some exotic clime (like Australia) you wouldn’t believe in it.

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