Badgers and relatives
Badgers belong to a large group of mammals called the “mustelids” ? that includes other well known animals such as the Otter, Weasel and Mongoose. In Lebanon there are 6 species recorded. They are difficult to see, as they come out at night and many are rare and found only in the wilder places e.g. the Otter. However, the Stone Martin is common and has been seen by the author in Ras Beirut!
(Meles meles canescens)
Status: Badgers are scarce and secretive mammals in Lebanon.
Description: Large Mustelids (head and body measure approximately 64 cm), Badgers are heavily built with short legs. Their facial pattern is distinctive, with two darker stripes running longitudinally through the eyes, and a whitish central stripe running from the center of the forehead to the nose. Local populations have a rusty-red coat, as opposed to the more typical black, gray and white coat. Their tails are short and blunt, their snouts are long and their ears are small and short, usually with light-colored tips.
Habitat: Badgers favor mixed deciduous woodlands with openings in the vegetation. Badgers build elaborate underground dwellings called “setts�?. The sett typically has a number of entrances and connecting tunnels running several meters, and is usually built on a steep slope among tree roots.
Habits: Badgers are mostly nocturnal. They are omnivorous and opportunistic foragers feeding on such things as earthworms, beetles, caterpillars, wasps, bird eggs, voles, moles, bulbs, fruits, nuts, and even cereal crops. They tend to be highly communal, living in groups from 2 to 25 adults, sharing the same sett, grooming each other and communicating through various snorts, growls, moans and screams. Breeding typically in March, like the Stone Martin they have delayed implantation so that young are born the following spring. Litter size ranges from one to five.
Distribution: Widely distributed throughout Europe and Asia, their Middle-Eastern range remains in the northern countries of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine.