Kew is teeming with badgers - there are over 20 setts in the Gardens.
Did you know?
- A group of badgers is known as a clan or cete. Most badgers live in groups of between 2 and 20 individuals
- Wakehurst Place has a large population of badgers and runs guided evening walks to observe them in the wild from a specially constructed hide
- Find out about badger watching on the Nature Trail in the Wakehurst Loder Valley Nature Reserve
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 probably four main setts are in use at any one time as badgers use different ones at different times of year. And there are probably something like 24 badgers in total. The numbers are unlikely to have increased during the last five years.
Badger setts comprise a labyrinth of tunnels. They live in family or social groups 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.
In 2003 Kew created a human-sized badger sett to demonstrate how badgers live. It is located in the southwest corner of the Gardens, close to the Wildlife Observation Centre. A giant forked oak branch leads visitors into the badgers' subterranean world, where food stores, sleeping chambers and nests are connected by tunnels. All the tunnels are at least one metre high; one is 1.5 metres high and accessible to wheelchair users.
- Although badgers are nocturnal, so not often seen in the daytime, they often leave evidence of their night-time wanderings around Kew. Can you find any clues the badgers have left behind? Look for scratch marks on trees, black and white hairs left on fences, and narrow, well-trodden paths.
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You can keep your hat on...
We invite photographers to capture the sights at Kew and Wakehurst. These images are a selection of images submitted by photographers from around the world. We hope you enjoy them. You can see more on Flickr.