Recue of a small badger cub from Torquay

On the 16th June the Chair of Somerset Badger Group received a call from Sven, a veterinary nurse at a veterinary practice in Exeter. 

A small female cub weighing just over 2kg had been taken into the practice a few days earlier and needed considerable intervention owing to dehydration and lack of food.  The cub was recovering, but still small and underweight.

Sven wanted advice on what to feed the cub, and SBG’s help in finding the cub’s natal sett.  He knew the group has a good track record for successfully returning cubs to their setts.

The group suggested a suitable high protein, easily digestible diet, and the cub gained weight and become more feisty!

SBG contacted Devon Badger Group and one of our experienced volunteers visited the location where the cub had been found by a caring local.

We found a significant active main sett only one hundred metres away.  Deploying trail cameras enabled us to confirm there were four adult badgers and two other cubs at the sett.

This was great news as we knew we had the right sett! We could reunite the cub with a cohesive badger clan and it would have a great chance of progressing well back in the wild.

Over the next two weeks the cub continued to thrive on its new and varied diet, and eventually she was ready for release. 

So on the evening of 30th June, volunteers collected her from Exeter Vets.  The practice had already placed her in a cat carrier, so we used this rather than our normal cub release cage. 

As it turned out this might have been a mistake.  The cub travelled well, but when put near the active entrance used by the badgers, she showed no interest at all.  Eventually after a telephone consultation we decided to abandon the release attempt, take her back to the vets and try again a couple of evenings later.

In the meantime, support food and water was being left at the main sett and this was being eagerly taken by the other badgers. 

Two evenings later on the 2nd July we collected the cub again; this time in a cub release cage. We drove back to Torquay and placed her near the active entrance.

This time she did not hesitate, she could smell and see her surroundings better, and she headed straight down the active entrance.  We have no idea what the cub’s mother’s reaction was or how the rest of her family reacted. But she probably got a good checking over and scent marked as well!

Support feeding, including fresh water being left, continued because of the exceptionally dry weather. Later this was reduced and ultimately stopped. 

The cub’s family had got used to keeping an eye out for their friendly food parcels. The photo below was taken by the volunteer doing the support feeding; a badger watching her as she spread the peanuts about!

This is a heartwarming story of dedicated and caring collaboration to achieve a very happy ending for a very lucky cub.  Our grateful thanks go to Sven at Exeter vets for his dedicated veterinary care and to Somerset Badger Group for the initial rescue of the cub.