Located on the edge of the natural forest surrounding Queen Charlotte's Cottage at the south end of the Gardens, the Badger Sett lets you explore what a badger’s home is really like.
A giant, forked oak branch leads visitors into the badgers' subterranean world, where food stores, sleeping chambers and nests are connected by a warren of tunnels.
All the tunnels are at least one metre high; one is 1.5 metres high and accessible to wheelchair users.
Kew is teeming with badgers — there are over 20 setts in the Gardens. The badgers arrived at Kew from nearby Richmond Park and cannot easily travel further east because London is so built-up. Badgers are protected by law, so Kew staff leave them to their own devices. They are difficult to spot because they are nocturnal creatures, so are rarely out during the Gardens’ opening hours.
In 2005, we conducted a survey of the setts in Kew and it is thought that there are 24 different setts. Of these, four main setts are probably in use at any one time as badgers use different ones at different times of year.
There are believed to be around 24 badgers in total with numbers unlikely to have increased during the last five years. Wakehurst also has a large population of badgers and we run guided evening walks to observe them in the wild from a specially-constructed hide.
Badger setts are made up of a labyrinth of tunnels. Badgers live in family or social groups (known as a clan or cete) and emerge at night to forage for earthworms. Because badgers are creatures of habit, they follow regular paths as they travel from their setts through fields, meadows and woodlands to find food in the wild. They continue using favourite routes even when roads are cut through them, which is why the car is now their greatest threat.