9 April 2015

Investigating suspected badger sett

We had a request from Scottish Badgers to go out and see a suspected badger sett that had seemingly been dug out in the side of a road over night.

Upon arriving, multiple rabbit holes and runs were discovered right on the roadside, next to a field entrance. It appears on inspection that the suspected badger sett is in fact a Eurasian rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) 'stop' - a breeding nest lined with fur from the rabbit doe's belly as insulation for the young rabbits - has been excavated by a predator. Fur from the nest lining is visible on the surface of the spoil. The hole narrows quickly to rabbit-sized tunnels.

Fur lining the nest of rabbit

Rabbit hole!
A red fox (Vulpes vulpes) had visited the scene, but it may originally have been dug out by a badger (Meles meles) given the quantity of spoil and size of stones moved. The slope is very steep and the spoil and several large stones were still on the road.

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) track on top of spoil heap
The stones currently in the hole look like they have simply been put in there to get the sizeable stones off the busy road, no malice intended. Had we felt this was indeed a badger sett we would have escalated the matter as a possible wildlife crime. If rabbits are still using this hole (unlikely if their young have been taken) there is still plenty of room for them to get in and out.

So no badger sett but still a little mystery to solve - you never know what you will get when you go out! :)

Scottish Badgers rely on casual sightings from members of the public,
please report badger setts or roadkill you see on their website!