Student Post: Oh the badger’s life is the life for me.

A friend of mine has a badger preoccupation. It was his expertise I consulted for last week’s blurb on badger culling. Between speaking with him and trying to plan a mad dash to Madison for its famous Halloween party, I’ve had badgers on the brain all week, so for this week’s post, I decided to couple “badger” and “neurobiology” in a literature search.

I found a delightful 2001 article on “Daily Activity Budgets of the Taiwan Ferret Badger (Melogale moschata subaurantiaca) in Captivity” by Kurtis Jai-Chyi Pei. It turns out ferret badgers spend most of their awake time traveling about followed by eating, drinking, playing and “staying alert.” But don’t give a ferret badger cause to think unfavorably upon you. The article goes on the describe how “…the noxious anal secretion is the most apparent weapon of the ferret badger.” This works best on mammals; apparently if you’re a bird of prey it isn’t so bad.

The point is… I want to be a ferret badger. Besides avoiding predation and competing for mates etc., it sounds like my kind of fun. We humans do too many activities that make us unhappy. I mean, what would a badger analysis of my activity budget look like?

Individual spends 33% sleeping, 15% eating/drink, 5% feigning disinterest in prospective mates, 5% time running in place, inordinate amount of time depleting natural resources, and somewhat less time complaining about the depletion of natural resources. For the remainder of active time, individual toils at some task or another the direct benefit of which is not apparent at this time. There is a curious lack of play exhibited– a behavior that has myriad benefits (Bandit and Thumper, 1996).

I think one of these days I’m going to relax and have myself a ferret badger day. If anyone nags me…POW. I’ll hit ’em with the noxious secretions.


  1. Hank Fox says

    Ferret badgers don’t get to go hiking, skiing, fly in hot air balloons, or ride mountain bikes.

    And that noxious anal secretion thing … I’m guessing it would pretty much end any party you got invited to.

    Try upgrading your aspirations for joyous activities, rather than downgrading your image of being.

    Lest we forget:

  2. Peter Ashby says

    I collect for my sins muscle anatomies and I have under thin card cover a monograph of the muscular anatomy of the badger (being the British species).

  3. Ken Shabby says

    I’d rather be an otter.

    A life spent fishing, playing in the water, snoozing, and reproducing doesn’t sound half bad.

  4. Kseniya says

    Nice post, Katie, esp. the activity budget (LOL). Editing note: I think you mean prospective mates, though I admit I find that I’ve developed a whole new perspective on some of my old prospects as time goes by. ;-)

  5. Dustin says

    Hank, will I get a reward when I find your misplaced sense of humor? Or, if you gave it a blanket party, will I at least get a payout so I don’t squeal to the fuzz when I find its body in a ditch?

  6. says

    Speaking of old prospective mates, I ran into an ex of mine who now lives in Montreal. As we parted, we made to exchange kisses on each cheek (like them dandies in Europe do) but I ended up going left when she went right and we ended up smooching right on the lips.

    How do you Europeans manage to do this without causing a ruckus each time you take each other’s leave? I mean, I can’t even pass someone in a narrow hallway without it looking like a poorly-choreographed two-person version of “Thriller”.

    Oh, and great post Katie. PZ could learn a few things from you.

  7. CortxVortx says

    Goddamnit. Take the last slash out of the URL to make the page work. Goddamn HTML. Kept getting “rel=no follow” when constructing that href.

    — CV

  8. Turd Ferguson says

    I want to be my dog. She sleeps all day while I’m at work, occasionally pees on the floor if she doesn’t want to wait. Has her food served to her each morning and night. Gets her butt scratched on demand. Sleeps on the bed with us. Hardly ever has to take a bath.

    Pretty damned good life.