16 March, 2024

Only one badger emerged on the night of the 14th, at 1AM (on the 15th) and only for about 15 minutes – just long enough to knock the slate off a dish of food (including a fresh egg). It was an inclement night, wet and windy.

Last night the weather was better. The badgers emerged at 10:30PM and stayed out until about 1:45AM. Both emptied their dishes and one ventured into the pipe and found a few peanuts left to reward exploration.

"One" because until now these badgers haven't been given names. I don't think I can post updates referring to them as the nervous one and the not-nervous one so I'm going to name them right now: as Vespera and Tully respectively; Latin and Irish female names that match their character, and I'll call them T and V for short.

A glance at this video clip will illustrate their recognisably different behaviour:

Here T is running about in the manner of a young badger with some energy to burn. She doesn't run in circles although it might appear so here. This clip was to contrast her behaviour with that of V who can be seen on the right running back and forth repeatedly over a small patch of ground in a manner of an animal suffering complex post-traumatic stress. Although both have been looked after as well in their earlier captivity their confinement indoors for months has affected one noticeably.

This kind of behaviour is quite common in zoo animals and reportedly treatments may include drugs like Prozac and Valium! That might be appropriate to consider if an animal was self-harming, which also happens in zoos. Non-pharmaceutical treatments include providing an enriched environment and "food that takes longer to eat", which presumably includes food that takes longer to find.

T and V have had generous meals provided every day of their lives in captivity and have sturdy physiques typical of badgers who have "overwintered well" – as a female badger was described to us once. (Male badgers are more active and presumably more inclined to lose weight over the winter.)

Tonight there'll be only one dish of food and some peanuts will be scattered in the pen. In addition, I've placed a branch on the spot that V has spent time running back and forth on. She does it intermittently for 10 minutes or so at a time.

Some consecutive nights of dry weather might help induce one or both of the badgers to do some digging out of the sett and or dragging in some bedding. If V can be distracted from her repetitive behaviour she may yet have some prospect of surviving release. Currently, I doubt she would stay even one night after the fence is removed. As badgers are social animals that would make T less likely to do so too.

A branch to disrupt repetitive running back and forth