Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Striped-Face in a Bluffing Mood
Is this badger's body language telling you anything?
If you think he looks like any other badger, kinda cute and snuggly, look at the next picture.
This is the usual appearance of Striped-face when he encounters a camera trap on the trail.
The animal is composed and attentive, and you might even say he looks curious.
That's how the working badger usually looks when snapped by a camera trap.
What about the badger in the first image -- the one stiffly braced on spread legs and looking as round as a cream puff?
If you still think he looks cute and snuggly I hope you never meet this fellow.
Note that his back is up, and he seems to have raised the hair on the far-side of his body.
That grizzled badger hair so famous for shaving brushes also outlines the creature's contour and shows off its bloated appearance rather nicely.
This is the "broadside display" of a bluffing badger. It's a defensive threat that shows off the animal's size to best advantage.
For badgers it's an unusual reaction to a camera trap.
Old Striped-face may be a tough customer, but he's a rambler who strays far from his burrows, and sometimes he stumbles into hungry predators larger than himself (not to mention the occasional scary camera trap).
That's when bluffing is a good defense.
Wemmer, C. and Wilson, D.E. 1983. Structure and function of hair crests and capes in African carnivora. In Behavior and Ecology of Mammals, edited by J.F. Eisenberg and D. Kleiman, American Society of Mammalogists, Special Publication Number 7:239-264.