Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Austria 2016 - Wild Animals and Hunting - Badger

ISSUE DATE: 22 October 2016
STAMP DESIGN:Kirsten Lubach

It is to the strikingly marked badger that this year’s commemorative stamp in the “Wildlife and Hunting” series is dedicated. The European badger, with the Latin name Meles meles, is native throughout Europe and thus also in Austria, and can even be found in cities. The entirely peaceable badger is a carnivore, and belongs to the family of mustelidae in the superfamily caniformia. This means that they are distantly related to dogs and bears, and also to seals. Badgers grow to around 90 centimetres in length and can weigh up to 15 kilograms, with the males being significantly heavier than the females. Their legs are rather short, which makes the animals appear quite stocky. The large paws with their long claws are ideally suited to digging. However, the most characteristic feature of the badger is its coat: the head is white with a black stripe running the length of the head on either side, from the snout past the eyes and into the neck, where it blends into the greyish-black fur on the back. Its ears are also edged with white. 

Although they are carnivores, badgers largely feed on plants. Fruit, roots, seeds, tubers, mushrooms, acorns and grain are supplemented with food of animal origin such as insects, earthworms, snails, eggs and the occasional small mammal. Badgers are social animals and live in large family groups in large badger setts which they have usually dug out themselves and which consist of numerous chambers and entrances. The “living quarters” are lined with fern and moss and they use small holes dug outside the sett as “latrines”. In spring up to five young are born, which start life pure white and blind. Young males usually leave the sett during the autumn to seek out a territory of their own. Badgers hibernate during the winter and can live for up to 15 years. The preferred habitat of these wild animals is hilly, wooded areas with plenty of shrubs and hedges, but also some open spaces such as fields. They are nocturnal animals which become active at twilight, but spend the day resting in their setts. Badgers are highly adaptable creatures and willingly find food sources in parks and gardens where they “harvest” vegetables, root through compost heaps and may even build a sett. They will settle in the outlying districts of large cities and can even be found in Vienna. In view of the damage they cause they are often unwelcome guests – they will even dig under garden sheds or patios. From 1st January to 31st May hunting, killing or driving out badgers is prohibited, and during this period of protection the sett, where the badgers give birth to and raise their young, must not be destroyed. In the past shaving brushes were made from badger hair and in some places the meat was eaten. Grimbart – as the badger is called in German fables – was once regarded as important in healing: badger fat was used as an anti-inflammatory liniment for treating rheumatism and wounds.


Stamp images and description thanks to Austrian Post - Österreichische Post
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