A new video has emerged of a badger doing something that scientists didn't think was possible, and could totally change how we understand the critters.
It’s one of the most remarkable feats you are ever likely to see a badger, or any animal like it, perform. Scientists from the University of Utah have captured footage of a badger burying a dead cow all by itself, despite the fact that the carcass is more than three times its size.
Scientists were studying how scavengers treat their finds by scattering seven calf carcasses in the Grassy Mountains of Utah, and then setting up camera traps so they could observe their behavior. They expect to see the usual vultures, coyotes, and eagles, but what they didn’t expect to see was a badger’s tireless efforts to work day and night to bury the cow it came across, pretty much as soon as it discovered the easy meal.
The badger started digging right away, burrowing tunnels underneath the cow until they collapsed into a hole, and then carefully covering it all back up again, looking proud of its accomplishment. It was certainly an unusual sight to see a badger store such a large cache of food, but it was also interesting because the badger is nocturnal but had no problem working in the daylight. You can watch the video of the badger below.
“We know a lot about badgers morphologically and genetically, but behaviorally there’s a lot of blank spaces that need to be filled,” says senior Ethan Frehner, first author on the paper documenting the badger behavior. “This is a substantial behavior that wasn’t at all known about.”
Evan Buechley, a doctoral candidate, was initially disappointed when he went to the site of one of the carcasses.
“When I first got there I was bummed because it’s hard to get these carcasses, to haul them out and set them up,” he says. “I thought ‘Oh, well we’ve lost one after a week.'”
He searched around the area, thinking something had dragged it off, but noticed something was amiss at the site. “Right on the spot I downloaded the photos,” he says, “We didn’t go out to study badgers specifically, but the badger declared itself to us.”