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You are here: Jake's Bones > A lucky week for me but an unlucky one for a badger
This week has all been about good luck and bad luck. The good luck for me on Monday was I finally got my leg cast off ! But the bad news is they put another one on so it'll be on for another two weeks. The other bad news is there was a badger killed by a car just outside my village - but this was good news for me because it's the first badger I've found, and I didn't even know there were badgers living there !
I've never seen a badger in the wild. They are quiet and secretive and only come out at night, and their setts are usually well hidden, so often the only time people see them is as roadkill. I've been living in the village all my life and I never knew they were living nearby. It was as Dad was driving me and my brothers to the hospital on Monday to get my cast looked at that we noticed something by the side of the road.
It had leaves over its face but you could see the black and white face stripes so I knew it was a badger.
The leaves had stuck because there was blood on the left hand side of its face.
We had brought a box to take it away while I decided what to do with it. We wore rubber gloves too. The body was very fresh with no other injury signs apart from the blood at the mouth which was good. It must have lay on the left side of its face at first, then been rolled over later because the blood was on its left side and blood doesn't flow uphill. Police also use this to tell if a body has been moved.
It fitted well into the box (the same one that I used for Pharoah the fox) and it looked beautiful and well apart from the blood. I'm not sure if it was an adult or not.
Badgers have very big and very sharp claws, and muscular pads and legs. They are very strong, and while they are peaceful and shy, they can do a lot of damage to other animals that attack them, especially dogs.
Their skull is almost unique because it it extremely strong and the bottom jaw is permanently attached to the skull with a hinge that stops it dislocating, like this one from the Biscuit Tin Of Bones:
Even though badgers are the same family as otters (mustelids) and they have their own special law to protect them, you don't need a licence to have their bones, unlike my otter. My plan was to put it in a wire mesh and let it decompose (like I did with Vulpy the fox) but instead of burying it I planned to leave it above ground. The mesh is to keep the bones together, because foxes often pull bodies apart and leave limbs a long distance apart. Here what I designed:
It's two sheets of mesh (£2.99 each from Wickes) hinged with cable ties and with a waterproof sign on:
The sign was in case a gamekeeper found it and thought it looked like the badger had been trapped. Badgers are so valuable to the countryside that they have their own group of laws which protects them. (But that doesn't stop this stupid UK government starting a badger cull when there is no scientific evidence that a cull will work !)
My garden is too small to let a body decompose because the neighbours wouldn't like it, and I couldn't go out because of my leg, so dad had to find a safe place to leave it. First he put the badger on the mesh:
Then he folded the mesh over and used cable ties round the edge to keep out foxes and birds, but let in flies (which lay eggs which turn into maggots) and beetles and ants.
My editor Jo had a good idea too, but she only told me after we'd hidden it. She suggested wrappping the paws in soft nylon netting to keep all the tiny bones together. That would be a good idea for the head and the teeth too.
This was the spot Dad found to hide it. It is underneath a blown over pine tree, and is close to a road so it's easy to check, but no-one ever goes there apart from a gamekeeper. When the tree blew over it left the roots exposed and the tree was at 45 degrees so it formed a kind of cave. At the edges were well hidden covered holes:
He pushed it into the side, and fastened it to a root with cable ties so it couldn't be dragged away.
Then he covered up the rest with sticks and foliage. Flies would still be able to get in, but it isn't obvious what is there.
Because it's coming into summer, I think it will take at least two and maybe three months to rot down to bones. Vulpy took seven months, but that was buried, and over the winter. So if no-one else finds it, and it rots down nicely, my plan it to rearticulate it over the summer, just like how I did Vulpy !
PS. I wrote this week because I asked people on the Jakes Bones Facebook page which of two stories they wanted ! If you "like" that page, you'll see some extra stuff during the week.