japanese badger

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Hakubishin

Last week we placed the Moultrie at the rear of the minka to see if any enoshishi or shika were still coming up the hill - after installing the deterrent lights. To our surprise we discovered a large male hakubishin very at home using this path several nights over the past week. We have often heard something in the trees at night, but had never caught a glimpse of him.

We also came across this mug-shot series from the Chiba ward office, listing the chief trouble makers and how to identify them using their paw prints. Right to left we have a worried anaguma (badger), a startled tanuki (tanuki), a guilty araiguma (racoon), and a vacant hakubishin (masked palm civet). Pretty kawaii…

An extremely simplified guide to a few badgers

  • American badgers (Taxidea taxus) are solitary predators native to North American grasslands.  They dig to catch their prey, which include gophers, mice, and prairie dogs.  Coyotes will sometimes follow American badgers to pick off any rodents that try to escape when the badgers dig up their burrows.
  • European badgers (Meles meles) are native to Europe and the Middle East.  Unlike American badgers, they’re omnivorous and very social.  It’s common for several adult European badgers to live together.  These are the badgers in Harry Potter and Redwall.  The Asian badger (Meles leucurus) is similar in appearance, but paler.
  • Honey badgers (Mellivora capensis), or ratel, lives in Africa, Western and Central Asia, India, and Nepal.  They’re known online for “not caring,” which is actually a pretty accurate way to describe their omnivorous diet; they’ll eat honey, plants, whole rodents, venomous snakes, and sometimes even buried human corpses, among other things.  They are more weasel-like in their appearance than other badgers.
  • Japanese badgers (Meles anakuma) are found in woodlands and forests in all of the main islands of Japan except Hokkaido.  Their markings are similar to those of the European badger, but with paler faces and browner coats.  They’re solitary animals and their diet primarily consists of insects, worms, and fruit.