A badger has just pulled off an incredible feat that scientists didn't even think was possible for the critter, and it's so remarkable they wrote a paper about it.
In what could be one of the most astonishing natural feats ever recorded, a lowly American badger has just done something rather remarkable by burying an entire cow by itself, caching behavior that scientists have never observed before. The images were taken by camera treps set up by researchers in the Grassy Mountains of Utah after they left seven calf carcasses to see how scavengers treated the anmiamls.
They expected lots of vultures and perhaps coyotes and eagles, but certainly not a badger attempt to bury an entire cow to save for letter. It was after one of the researchers found that an entire cow had disappeared that they checked the cameras, and found out the extraordinary truth that a badger had started digging a grave for its carcass almost immediately after finding it.
And it didn’t dig only at night, despite being a nocturnal creature, but also in the daylight hours. The badger dug tunnels beneath the death cow until they collapsed, sinking the catch. Then, the badger covered it with soil. The video is embedded below this post.
“We know a lot about badgers morphologically and genetically, but behaviorally there’s a lot of blank spaces that need to be filled,” says senior Ethan Frehner, first author on the paper documenting the badger behavior, in a university statement. “This is a substantial behavior that wasn’t at all known about.”
Evan Buechley, a doctoral candidate, said he was surprised to find a carcass missing at first. “When I first got there I was bummed because it’s hard to get these carcasses, to haul them out and set them up,” he says. “I thought ‘Oh, well we’ve lost one after a week.'”
After a search, he noticed something. “Right on the spot I downloaded the photos,” he says, “We didn’t go out to study badgers specifically, but the badger declared itself to us.”