Notes from Tiggywinkles: Miracle of delayed badger pregnancies

Badger cubs
Badger cubs

We can now predict and expect some casualty species at certain times of the year.

In particular all badger babies are born in February.

This co-ordination across the badger world is via one of nature’s miracles – that of embryonic diapause, which we prefer to know as delayed implantation.

Almost as predictable as February babies are male casualties in March, out and about doing badger business.

Mating and fertilisation can take place in March when the females are still lactating.

This prompts the cycle of delayed implantation whereby the egg does not enter the uterus but remains dormant until December when the pregnancy phase is kick-started. Seven weeks later, in February, the babies are born.

It is crucial that at Tiggys we remains alert in case any female badger patients suddenly give birth to their tiny, sausage-like babies any time in February.

Badgers are good mothers making it possible for a small team to carry the whole family to suitable nursery quarters where they will not be disturbed.

If orphans happen to be brought in during February and March we can feed them on artificial milk.

They are very amenable to hand-rearing.

And sometimes, if the right circumstances present themselves, we can get a nursing mother to adopt a waif and stray.

On the subject of badger families, Aylesbury has a unique reputation for a phenomenon that has never occurred anywhere else. We had to rescue two badgers whose nest was disturbed inside a haystack at Broughton.

This was the first and only time that any badgers, anywhere, had been reported denning above ground.

We reared and released the two refugee cubs through our regular badger programme.