Road­kill offers op­por­tu­nity to ex­am­ine bad­gers

Bray People - - LIFESTYLE -

THE Badger is a noc­tur­nal an­i­mal so it is gen­er­ally out and about un­der cover of dark­ness only. Since most peo­ple are asleep in their beds at night the only ev­i­dence of the an­i­mal that we are likely to see dur­ing the day­time may be foot­prints left in wet mud, tufts of sil­ver-tipped, dark hair snagged on a barbed wire fence or re­mains of an overnight road­kill un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously aban­doned on the way­side verge.

Foot­prints are sel­dom pre­served per­fectly but when they are they are cer­tainly wor­thy of closer ex­am­i­na­tion. Ide­ally, to pre­serve a good print, the Badger needs to be walk­ing on level ground rather than trot­ting or gal­lop­ing up or down a slope. The mud needs to be free of veg­e­ta­tion and to be soft but not sloppy. And, most of all, the print needs to be fresh.

A fresh Badger road­kill af­fords an op­por­tu­nity to be­come fa­mil­iar with the lay­out of the an­i­mal’s foot. The im­age above shows the two front limbs of a freshly dead Badger ly­ing on the road.

The sole of the left foot is fac­ing us show­ing the claws, dig­its and pad. In hu­man terms, th­ese equate to the nails, fin­gers and palm of our left hand. As with our hand, the digit on the left – the thumb – is the short­est of the five.

Bad­gers dig a lot so their front limbs are pow­er­ful, the claws are long and sharp and the dig­its are mus­cu­lar. The pad be­hind the dig­its is broader than long and is kid­ney-shaped.

Badger foot­prints are eas­ily recog­nised as all five claws read­ily show, the print is wider than long and the pad is kid­ney-shaped. In both dog and fox prints, only four claws show, the print is more or less cir­cu­lar in out­line and the pad is roughly tri­an­gu­lar or di­a­mond-shaped be­ing as long as it is broad.

The beach is a good place to study foot­prints as many peo­ple ex­er­cise their dogs on the strand. A dog run­ning on a flat beach with damp, firm sand near an ebbing tide leaves good paw­prints mak­ing it is an easy ex­er­cise to re­late the size and shape of the print to the size, shape, weight and be­hav­iour of the an­i­mal that made it.

A dog that has been re­leased from the con­fines of a car is bound to gen­er­ate er­ratic sets of paw­prints as it walks, runs, jumps and slips while en­joy­ing its new-found free­dom.

The two front limbs of a fresh Badger road­kill.

JIM HUR­LEY’S Na­ture Trail

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.