An American Badger and Long-tailed Weasels

An American Badger with its prey, a Long-tailed WeaselAn American Badger with its prey, a Long-tailed Weasel

I had a fantastic time yesterday photographing an American Badger at its burrow with its prey and a couple of Long-tailed Weasels, both alive and dead. At first I couldn’t tell what was in the badger’s mouth but the fur color of the prey was the color of the summer coat of a Long-tailed Weasel. The light angle wasn’t great and there were some dead wild sunflower stalks in the way and the badger disappeared into its burrow.

Close up of the dirty face of an American BadgerClose up of the dirty face of an American Badger

After getting into a position where the light angle was better and waiting a while the American Badger came back out into the sun without its prey and I was able to get quite a few portraits of it. American Badgers and Long-tailed Weasels are carnivores although through some reading I did last night on badgers I did learn that they do eat some plant foods such as corn, green beans, peas, sunflower seeds and some fungi.

American Badger at its burrowAmerican Badger at its burrow

American Badgers prey on ground squirrels, mice, voles, pocket gophers, pikas, marmots, prairie dogs and rats. They will also take lizards, carrion, skunks, insects and ground nesting birds. It has been noted that American Badgers and Coyotes will hunt together, the badgers dig better than coyotes and the coyotes are quicker at chasing the prey above the ground and between the two species they leave the prey little opportunity to escape.

American Badger exiting its burrowAmerican Badger exiting its burrow

I haven’t had many opportunities to photograph American Badgers so as you can imagine I was delighted to have this one in my viewfinder as it sat in the sunshine and dug into the soil.

Long-tailed WeaselLong-tailed Weasel at an American Badger burrow

While waiting for the badger to come back up to the surface I spotted a bit of movement in the cheatgrass and shortly after that another Long-tailed Weasel appeared near the mouth of the burrow. The weasel ran all over the area and at one point went down into the burrow itself. I thought the weasel was a goner but it popped back up and continued to explore the area around the mouth of the burrow.  The badger did come to the surface and just for a few seconds headed towards the weasel and the weasel ran off.

An American Badger with a Long-tailed WeaselAn American Badger with a Long-tailed Weasel

Then the American Badger went into the burrow and came back up with a Long-tailed Weasel in its jaws for a few seconds and soon disappeared  into the ground again. Long-tailed Weasels do prey on their own kind and I really can’t be sure if the living weasel was after the dead one in the burrow or if the badger had taken over the weasel’s den.

I thought I was going to be photographing birds yesterday and I did photograph some but this American Badger and the Long-tailed Weasels were the highlight of the day. I just never know what I might see when I am out in the field photographing nature.



  1. Lynn Koch May 15, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Beautiful photo story, Mia. Nature is absolutely amazing!

  2. Julie Brown May 14, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Awesome photos, Mia!

  3. Chris Rohrer May 14, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Fascinating stuff. Badgers are not always the easiest to spot. And you forgot to mention that badgers will feast on humans if they get too close to their dens:) That is an amazing encounter….and not often you get to see it. So with your detective glasses, I wonder if a badger would take a weasel’s den. If the one came close, it may have been checking on the hole to go back. Here’s what I think happened. The badger entered the weasel’s home. Took one by surprise. It had nowhere to go and the badger got him. Scary stuff!

  4. Bob Bushell May 14, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Amazing badger, amazing photos.

  5. Jane Chesebrough May 14, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Who knows, maybe the badger got the mate of the live weasel. What a great photo op. To be truthful I would be afraid of running into badgers, there are so many tales about them and their viciousness.. Your captures are wonderful.

  6. Sarah Mayhew May 14, 2014 at 9:03 am

    Wonderful series Mia! I don’t get to see either of these mammals. I think perhaps the badger had a baby weasel? And it was the parent trying to rescue it? Or is it too early for babies?

  7. Patty Chadwick May 14, 2014 at 8:36 am

    The only “badger” I ever saw “live” was loping along at a distance and may have actually been a Martin. How great to see the detailed portrait and comments you’re sharing with us this morning! How lucky you were!!!

  8. Ilze Long May 14, 2014 at 8:14 am

    superb! Love your photography.

  9. Len Boeder May 14, 2014 at 7:19 am

    Great story, thanks for sharing!

  10. John Randall May 14, 2014 at 7:07 am

    Excellent images Mia !

  11. Montanagirl May 14, 2014 at 6:53 am

    Awesome photos, Mia. I rarely ever see a badger, and when I do spot one, it’s usually some distance away and already on the run…therefore, I’ve never gotten a good quality photo – so I really enjoyed seeing yours today.

  12. Sharon Constant May 14, 2014 at 6:25 am

    Fantastic! Beautiful photos of a unique experience. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  13. Glen Fox May 14, 2014 at 5:37 am

    What an amazing session you had, Mia! Two very fascinating and rarely observed (not to mentioned photographed) mammals .. a VERY special encounter. In typical Mia fashion, you captured it well too. My hunch is that the live weasel was checking on the status of its mate, youngster, or territorial intruder, which the badger had killed. I would suspect that it knew the danger of entering the burrow, so its drive to do so must have been pretty great. Even if the burrow was formerly occupied by the weasel, the badger’s scent would have been very strong. I’m not sure whether weasels use such dens ..they are not equipped for digging like the badger is.

    Thank you so much for sharing your encounter with us Mia.

    Glen in Canada

    • Utahbooklover May 14, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      Interesting comments Glen. I agree Mia had an amazing session but I guess we’ll never know for sure about the burrow. Wikipedia had this: The long-tailed weasel dens in ground burrows, under stumps or beneath rock piles. It usually does not dig its own burrows, but commonly uses abandoned chipmunk holes. The 22–30 cm (8.66–11.8 in.) diameter nest chamber is situated around 60 cm (23.6 in.) from the burrow entrance, and is lined with straw and the fur of prey.[6]

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