Contrary to what you might think, badgers don’t hibernate. In fact, far from sleeping through the winter, this is one of Meles meles’ busiest times of year. Janaury to March is when most females (or sows) give birth to their cubs – nine months after having mated the previous spring. This might seem like a long pregnancy, but sows have the ability to suspend development of fertilised eggs, and the real gestation period is only seven weeks.
A litter is usually formed of two or three cubs, each of which is a mere 12cm long (adult badgers typically measure 90cm and weigh 10 to 12kg). Cubs don’t make their first forays above ground until they are around eight weeks old, but unless the weather is severe, adults will continue to venture out to forage. You’re unlikely to stumble across one – not only are badgers nocturnal, they also have an excellent sense of smell. But if you stake out a sett before sunset and wait as the light fades, there’s a chance you’ll get lucky.
A lure, in the form of a few peanuts, certainly won’t go amiss either.