Have you ever heard the expression that “badgers are the hardest working creatures in the animal business?” Well, neither have we… But, that doesn’t make it any less true!
While studying scavenger behavior in Utah’s Great Basin Desert, biologists from the University of Utah observed an American badger do something that no other scientists had ever seen before!
The little guy buried an entire cow carcass by himself…
Check it out per National Geographic:
Over the course of five days in Utah’s Great Basin, a single American badger excavated tunnels beneath the calf carcass until the whole thing collapsed into a pit. The badger then covered the carcass completely and constructed a burrow beside it, inside which it feasted on beef for 11 straight days, we reported in March.
Later investigation into the scientific literature revealed no one had ever recorded a badger entomb anything larger than a jackrabbit.
Here’s more from the University of Utah:
While badgers and their relatives are known to cache food stores, this is the first known instance of a badger burying an animal larger than itself. The finding suggests that badgers may have no limit to the size of animal they can cache, and that they may play an important role in sequestering large carcasses, which could benefit cattle ranchers in the West. The study is published in Western North American Naturalist.
“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.”
Camera trap records show that the badger completely buried the roughly 50-pound carcass over the course of five days, and then spent around two weeks in his underground burrow before leaving and intermittently returning to the burrow for the next few weeks until early March. According to the researchers, badgers cache food to isolate it from other scavengers and to keep it in an environment where it will last longer. “Like putting it in the fridge,” Buechley says. Previously, biologists saw badgers caching rodents and rabbits, but never an animal larger than itself.
Little was previously known about badger behavior, Frehner says. “They’re an enigmatic species. A substantial amount of their lifetime is spent either underground or a lot of nocturnal behavior, so it’s hard to directly observe that.”
Here’s the amazing video!
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen buried?