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Badger cubs in the sett
Secrets of the Sett
By Kevin Heathorn
New scientific evidence about the secretive lives of wild badgers has been uncovered by Devon wildlife film-maker Andrew Cooper. His latest film for BBC2 goes deep underground to watch badgers in their setts.
Two years of detective work by Devon wildlife film-maker Andrew Cooper has uncovered some fascinating new facts about one of Britain's best loved wild animals.
His latest documentary, Secrets of the Sett, sheds new light on the secretive underground world of badgers.
For a creature never far from controversy and blamed for all manner of destruction and disease, surprisingly little is known about the badger's private family life.
Infra-red images of a badger family
"After 26 years of observing animals in the wild, this is the first time I've filmed brand new behaviour that no-one has ever observed before," explained Andrew.
"This film will give people a much better understanding of the badger and hopefully what we have discovered will be of some scientific benefit."
Using the latest research and hidden cameras, his film shows wild badgers as they've never been seen before - going about their daily routine deep underground.
The film, set in a Devon valley, reveals a surprising and entertaining story.
"Badgers tend to get a bad press," said Andrew. "They are under siege from every quarter, yet we know so little about their wild lives.
Badgers in their underground sett
"The definitive text book on badger behaviour, first published in 1977, only guessed at what they did underground.
"This is the first time anyone has managed to get cameras underground to watch a family of wild badgers living at home in intimate detail.
"We've found out some surprising things. For instance badgers make their beds before they leave home every day.
"They also bring apples home to eat. All the text books tell you they don't bring food back to their setts. We now know that's not true."
Andrew's film, made for the BBC's Natural World series, follows the lives of a badger family throughout an eventful year.
The hidden underground cameras capture footage of a mother nursing her tiny cubs and their eventual emergence into the Devon countryside.
The cameras also reveal the extent of their impressive fortress home - a network of passages and chambers covering nearly an acre of ancient bluebell wood.
Devon has always been a stronghold of the badger. Their tracks and trails criss-cross the countryside and many of their paths have probably been in regular use since Roman times.
They are highly social animals, often living in large family groups. Yet despite a population of more than 300,000 across Britain, they are seldom ever seen.
last updated: 20/02/2008 at 15:07
Badgers have lived in Britain for over 250,000 years
British badgers are the most sociable of their kind in the world
More than half the badger’s diet is made up of earthworms
Favourite meals include blackberries and wild cherries
Badgers make their beds before they leave home
From stunning views to nature - take a webcam tour of Devon