Cubs are normally born in February, and the average number in a litter is three, although the range can be from one to five. However, a small number of badger cubs die underground before their eyes open and they become mobile enough to come above ground.
Females are able to mate at any time after the cubs are born, but the fertilised egg does not implant in the uterus until December. This process, known as “delayed implantation”, ensures that cubs are born early in the year and are weaned when food is becoming most abundant. The delayed process also means that pregnancies rarely proceed in a female badger which is in too poor a condition to carry healthy cubs, or if resources are short.
Cubs emerge from the safety of their underground nursery chambers after 8 to 10 weeks, and will begin to explore the sett area from May. They tend to be nervous for the first few days and remain near their home sett. However, they soon explore further afield with their mother after a few weeks.
Cubs live off their mothers milk for the first few weeks, but soon learn how to find solid food to eat when they leave the sett.