American Badgers As Pets – Your Questions Answered

Having a pet around the house can be an amazing experience. For many people, pets are a source of companionship and affection they might not get anywhere else. While cats and dogs are popular, some pet owners might opt for more exotic options.

Badgers are one choice for exotic pets for people in the US. They’re relatively small, easy to keep, and native to most parts of the continent, but they still have that sense of uniqueness. It seems like a perfect deal, right? 

But just because you can get an American badger doesn’t mean you should.

Having a pet is a big responsibility, especially an exotic pet. There are many things you must consider many things before choosing to keep one.

Join us in Floofmania as we discuss whether or not a badger makes a good pet.

Do American Badgers Make Good Pets?

The issue with badgers and all exotic pets, for that matter, is that they are wild animals at the end of the day. Unlike cats and dogs, which have gone through millennia of domestication, American badgers don’t have the same level of acceptance toward humans. They are guided by their instinct first and foremost, which makes them unpredictable. 

Because of that unpredictability, most governments discourage or outright ban people from keeping badgers as pets. These mammals may become aggressive and attack humans. 

This doesn’t mean that all badgers are bad pets; it just means that people have to take extra care to discipline and care for these sensitive animals. Some badgers might become aggressive, but others can become attached to humans. Under the right circumstances and when adequately trained, American badgers can be loyal and loving as any other pet.

Can You Train or Domesticate An American Badger?

There have been many cases of people keeping badgers as pets and training them to some degree, so it’s possible. While it is possible, no one says it is easy.

Badgers are utterly unaccustomed to being around humans, and our little friends make great efforts to avoid humans in the wild. It takes a lot of getting used to, but badgers who have spent a lot of time with humans (such as those in captivity) tend to be more obedient and easier to train.

Even if you manage to train badgers, you shouldn’t forget that they are still wild animals at the end of the day and are prone to instinctive drift. This is a phenomenon when animals’ instincts override their training which reverts them to their wild behavior. Instinctive drift can occur in stressful situations, so you should watch out when your badgers feel agitated.

If you want to keep badgers in your home, you must accept that something like this is a real possibility. 

Are American Badgers Friendly To Humans?

Badgers are not naturally friendly towards humans and mostly try to avoid any contact with us. For the longest time, we have hunted badgers and destroyed their habitat, and these clever animals know it. In their eyes, humans are nothing but trouble, and they prefer to avoid us at all costs.

Like all mammals, though, badgers are capable of affection and companionship. There are cases of badgers not only being pets but also being affectionate towards humans. Some places even use them as emotional support animals!

To do that, badgers need to trust you and believe you will care for them. A big part of that is by ensuring the badgers are in an environment where they can be happy and healthy to begin to trust you.

Can I Legally Own An American Badger?

An American badger in the snow.

Owning exotic pets is controversial in many places due to the danger they pose to you and the environment, but also the individual animal’s wellbeing. Whether or not you can own a particular animal depends on where you live.

Although they are native to North America, local governments don’t want people to capture these wild critters and take them home. Canada has already outright banned owning American badgers in all its provinces because they are becoming endangered in some places.

In the US, it is up to each state to decide how they handle the situation, though there seem to be two main responses. 

The first is total bans on badgers. These states do not allow anyone to keep badgers in their home under any circumstances. Owning badgers as pets in these places can be considered a crime, and you can face hefty fines or even jail time if you break the law.

If these states ever allow someone to keep badgers around, they are usually kept by shelters or zoos.

Another group of states has badgers as permitted animals, where you will be allowed to own badgers if you get a permit from the government. The states do this to limit and regulate the number of exotic pets in captivity.

Their goal in having these requirements is to ensure you follow all the laws when obtaining your badgers and have the means to take care of them when you do.

So before you run off to buy a pet badger, be sure to check your local laws to ensure you can keep him.

Why A Pet Badger Might Not Be A Good Idea

Deciding to own pet badgers is not a decision you should make lightly. You must consider many things that can go wrong, from practical problems to ethical issues. 

The Ethics of Owning American Badgers

Pet ownership is a big responsibility, not just for the practical stuff but also because of the ethics that goes into it. You will be taking care of these animals, so it’s your responsibility whatever happens to them and what they do to the environment. 

That is why you have to make sure the badgers can adapt to the new living situation and that they won’t be a threat to anyone else.

If you can handle that, great, but if not, you should consider getting a different pet.

This is not even considering the ethics of where you are getting them from. Unfortunately, animal trafficking is common, and badgers are among the many victims of these activities. 

If you’re not careful, you might end up buying badgers that were stolen from their natural homes or kept in substandard conditions. Not only that, but you are financially incentivizing the people responsible and encouraging them to keep going.

Before buying one of these animals, you should ensure the place you are getting them is legit.

American Badgers Can Be Aggressive to Other Pets

If you have small children or pets, you should think twice about keeping badgers around your house. Badgers can be pretty territorial, which can be made worse by keeping them in small areas like a house, especially with other animals and children around.

Badgers enjoy having their own space and have been known to fight and bite pets that don’t respect that space. Dogs are a big risk because many breeds are trained to hunt animals like badgers, so they might be naturally inclined to fight. Cats are a bit safer since they generally leave these solitary animals alone, but you should still keep an eye on them.

Farm animals are not much better, as badgers are known to terrorize farms. Chickens are a part of a badger’s diet, so they might try to eat them if you leave them to it. While badgers don’t attack larger animals, some livestock, like cows, can still be at risk as badgers can transfer diseases like TB to them (although a house-trained American badger shouldn’t be at risk of being a carrier).

While badgers attacking children are rare, it doesn’t mean they should live under the same roof. It’s one thing if badgers are out in the open where they can leave, but they can easily feel cornered around the house.

Children might be unable to tell when badgers are warning them to stay away, which can lead to badgers attacking by instinct. The last thing you want is badgers to fight with your youngest family members! 

Two American badgers next to a pile of soild on the site of a hillside overgrown with greenery.

Badgers Like to Pee Everywhere

Badgers can be pretty territorial and they mark their territory, so everyone knows who it belongs to. Unfortunately, the way badgers tend to mark their territory is through urinating, which can be a massive pain for pet owners. 

When badgers establish their territory, they will go along the area and pee on places where everyone can smell it, and unsurprisingly, isn’t a pleasant smell. 

Additionally, the smell is the least of your worries as urine can be a health hazard of how many harmful bacteria it contains. Coming into contact with badger urine could get you sick if you are not careful. 

Unless you live on a farm or a place with plenty of outdoor space, this can be a big problem! 

American Badgers Can Cause A Lot of Damage

Badgers are considered a nuisance species in several states because of how much property damage they can cause. As pets, it’s no different, as these furry guys can make a big mess. 

For one thing, badgers are natural diggers and enjoy burrowing in the ground, which is how they make their homes, after all. Having them around your home also carries the risk of damaging your home. Among the things, badgers can do include:

  • Digging up dirt and plants.
  • Damaging furniture.
  • Hitting and breaking water pipes.
  • Eating food and plants.
  • Knocking over garbage cans.

Sometimes, they can cause accidents unintentionally. Many farmers often complain about animals injuring themselves when they stumble into holes dug by badgers.

Your neighbor’s property might also be at risk since your pet badger is unlikely to stay within your own property!

Urban Areas are Unfamiliar to American Badgers

Badgers are forest animals first and foremost, so taking them to unfamiliar areas like the city or even farms is a big change for them. Aside from getting used to the new environment, they also need to learn what is and isn’t dangerous.

These curious animals will try to explore their new surroundings, which require constant supervision on your part.

More than a few badgers have found themselves, victims of road accidents due to not realizing what they were walking on and being unable to avoid passing cars. That is just one of the many things that can go wrong if you bring badgers to places they are not used to.

American Badgers are Nocturnal Animals

Badgers are naturally nocturnal animals, resting most of the day and only coming out at night. For pet owners, if you want to spend time with your pet badgers, you will need to do it only after the sun sets, making things much more inconvenient. 

First, your badgers might be less willing to eat or walk during the day, so you must adjust your schedule to their sleeping habits. This schedule can also make sleeping more difficult as you have to deal with your pets running around or digging while trying to sleep. 

Two American badgers next to the sett that they have dug in a green field.

What Living Conditions Do Pet Badgers Require?

Once you have permission to own American badgers, you now have to think about where you will place them. This task can be as difficult as getting the badgers themselves because of the requirements necessary. Aside from the government which may require you to meet certain criteria, badgers also have many needs that you need to take care of.

You Need a Vet to Check the Badgers

The state might require you to have your badger checked out medically before even letting you get a permit for badgers to ensure that the animal is healthy.

Badgers can be carriers of diseases, some of which can affect their behavior. Symptoms such as extreme aggression can signify rabies and other diseases that can spread to other animals if untreated.

If you don’t take care of that early on, new badgers can be a significant health risk to everyone around them. Badgers have been known to infect farm animals and pets with diseases. Things like rabies and Bovince Tuberculous (TB) are common diseases found in badgers. 

Unfortunately, if they aren’t treated, they can spread wildly. For this reason, badgers are sometimes culled in the wild to prevent the spread of diseases. That is why governments try to limit how many badgers people get to avoid outbreaks like this.

Where Will You Be Keeping Your Badgers?

Once you get ahold of a badger, where will it live? Badgers are wild animals that need a particular environment to thrive: wide open spaces with a mild climate where they can dig and hunt. If you cannot provide an environment like this, your badgers might not be as happy or healthy as they would be in the wild. 

A small house will not give badgers room to stretch their legs and roam free, which can leave them depressed and even agitated.

Even in environments suitable for badgers, the problem could be that badgers might escape, multiply in the wild and become invasive to the local ecosystem. When that happens, nothing keeps badgers from spreading out of control and upsetting the balance of nature. That is why some places are so strict about not letting people keep badgers around.

American Badgers Have a Carnivorous Diet

Of all the badger species out there, American badgers are the most carnivorous. While other badger species are satisfied with eating insects and fruits, American badgers prefer to snack on smaller animals like

  • Squirrels
  • Mice
  • Groundhogs
  • Prarie dogs
  • Insects
  • Occasionally small birds

While American badgers might be willing to eat insects, these are not the central part of their diet. If you want badgers to grow up strong and healthy, you need to either catch these animals yourself or give badgers a place where they can hunt them themselves.

Alternatively, you can substitute these animals for something else, like other meats, but you should consult a vet first. Feeding badgers the wrong thing runs the risk of upsetting their stomachs and getting them sick.

How Long Do American Badgers Live in Captivity?

Another important consideration is how long badgers live in captivity. For many people, the thought of their pet passing away in a year or two can be troubling, and they might not be able to handle the heartache. Though it seems like badgers are animals, you will have them for a long time. 

While animal lovers might rejoice at this, it can pose problems for pet owners. The fact is, badgers, like all exotic pets are expensive to take care of. They have particular needs and it can take a lot of time and resources to meet those needs. Being able to live for over a decade means that the burden of caring for them can drag on for a long time. This is another thing you have to think carefully about before you make the decision. 

The Lifespan of Badgers in the WildThe Lifespan of Badgers in Captivity
Average Lifespan of Badgers4-10 years16 years
Higher Lifespan of Baders14 years20 years

American badgers typically live from 4 to 10 years in the wild, though some individuals as old as 14 years old have been recorded. For a forest creature as small as our furry friends, reaching ten years is impressive, given the dangers they face.

In captivity, that lifespan can be even longer as badgers face fewer dangers and have more access to food. Living up to 14 years old in captivity is much more common, as the average lifespan of captive badgers is around 16 years, though some badgers have been able to live past 20.

While that is impressive, it all depends on the conditions badgers live in. If you take good care of these little guys, you can enjoy their company for a very long time, but if you do not keep them in poor conditions, you might have to say goodbye sooner. 

Two American badgers on a green field with dug-out soil next to them.

Where Can I Get A Pet Badger?

If everything goes well and you have permission to own badgers, it is tempting to go out and catch them yourself. After all, badgers are found in many parts of the United States, but that might not be a very good idea. 

For one, it can be dangerous as badgers are known to attack when they feel cornered, so you could risk getting hurt. Another is that different states have rules and regulations about hunting animals, like badgers. If you don’t follow those rules to the letter, you could face legal trouble and be arrested as a poacher. 

It’s better not to take the risk and leave it to the professionals. The best place to get badgers is through exotic pet dealers. These people tend to have farms where they keep their pets that you can visit or websites to get in touch with them. 

These people are trained to handle unconventional animals like this, and they know how to treat them and transport them without agitating or hurting them. 

If you find a dealer, research them first to ensure they are legit. The last thing you want is getting badgers that were obtained illegally, or raised or kept in unethical conditions.

Author: Quade Ong

Hello there, my name is Quade. I have been a writer for three years but an animal lover for over two decades. I grew up in one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, which has given me the blessing of seeing all sorts of beautiful animals. Now I strive to learn not just about the animals I am from, but those all over the world!

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