Collaboration and a happy ending for one small badger cub in Torquay

The rescue of a small badger cub from Torquay

On the 16th June our Chair received a call from Sven, a veterinary nurse at a veterinary practice in Exeter.

A small female cub weighing just over 2kg had been taken into the practice a few days earlier and needed considerable intervention owing to dehydration and lack of food.

The cub was recovering, but still small and underweight. Sven wanted advice on what to feed the cub, and SBG’s help in finding the cub’s natal sett.  He knew we have a good track record for successfully returning cubs to their setts.

Growing stronger

We suggested a suitable high protein, easily digestible diet and the cub started to gain weight and become more feisty!


The Chair contacted Devon Badger Group and one of their experienced volunteers visited the location where the cub had been found by a caring local.

They found a significant active main sett only one hundred metres away.  Deploying trail cameras enabled us to confirm there were four adult badgers and two other cubs at the sett.

Trail camera footage confirms four adults and two cubs at the natal sett.

The cub’s extended badger family at the natal sett - The rescue of a small badger cub from Torquay

The natal sett is found

This was great news as we knew we had the right sett!  The cub could be reunited with a cohesive badger clan and would have a great chance of progressing well back in the wild.

Over the next two weeks the cub continued to thrive on its new and varied diet, and eventually she was ready for release.

So on the evening of 30th June, volunteers from the Devon Badger Group collected her from Exeter Vets.  She had already been placed in a cat carrier at the vets, so we decided to use this rather than our normal cub release cage.

First attempt at release. The cub in a cat carrier.

First attempt at release - The rescue of a small badger cub from Torquay

Going home, or maybe not!

As it turned out this might have been a mistake.  The cub travelled well, but when put near the active entrance used by the badgers, she showed no interest at all.  Eventually after a telephone consultation we decided to abandon the release attempt, take her back to the vets and try again a couple of evenings later.

In the meantime support food and water had been left at the main sett and this was being eagerly taken by the other badgers.

Two evenings later on the 2nd July the cub was collected. Now in the cub release cage, and taken back to Torquay, we placed her near the active entrance again.

Second attempt at release. Waiting in the release cage.

Second attempt at release - The rescue of a small badger cub from Torquay

Home and dry

This time she did not hesitate, she could smell and see her surroundings better, and she headed straight down the active entrance.  We have no idea what the cub’s mother’s reaction was or how the rest of her family reacted. But she probably got a good checking over and scent marked as well!

Support feeding, including fresh water being left, continued due to the exceptionally dry weather.

This has now been significantly reduced and will be stopped this week.

The cub’s family have been keeping an eye out for their friendly food parcels. The photo below was taken by the volunteer doing the support feeding; a badger watching her as she spread the peanuts about!

A badger patiently waiting for the Devon Badger Group volunteer to lay out dinner as the group receive support feeding and watering during the hot weather.

Waiting for peanuts - The rescue of a small badger cub from Torquay

This is a heart warming story of dedicated and caring collaboration to achieve a very happy ending for a very lucky cub.  Our grateful thanks go to Sven at Exeter vets for his dedicated veterinary care and to the Devon Badger Group for the amazing job they have done in releasing and supporting feeding at the sett.