Friday, January 13, 2012

Badger Rules of Thumb

I have a thing for Badgers. And they like me, too. Here is my adaptation of the Badger Rules of Thumb from The Cottage Tales series by Susan Wittig Albert. This mystery series is based on the life of Beatrix Potter. They are fun & fluffy; the best parts are Albert's forays into the animal point of view & folklore explorations. So, here are those guidelines for badgers & badger-lovers:
The Badger Rules of Thumb

1. De parvis, grandis acerbus erit, or from small things, there will grow a mighty heap. In the common parlance: “Many littles make a mickle, many mickles make a mile.”

2. Be wary of all dogs, & especially of terriers who have been taught to tunnel, for it is safe to say that they do not have a badger’s best interests at heart.

3. The Aiding & Abetting Rule: One must be helpful to one’s fellow creatures, large & small, for one never knows when one will require help oneself.

4. Every male badger is expected to leave his place of birth & establish a new sett of his own, unless the senior badger of the sett has elected him to receive the Badger Badge of Authority, which entitles him to manage the sett.

5. All badgers should practice the art of hospitality, gladly accommodating any animal who finds himself temporarily without bed, board, or a roof, and turning away only those who would be a danger to their neighbors.
Corollary to Rule of Thumb 5:
         A badger’s table should be spread in generous abundance, with enough food for any visitors       who happen by at mealtimes.
2nd Corollary to Rule of Thumb 5:
          Every guest deserves a place at the table where he or she can eat undisturbed and unafraid. This is why a rabbit can sit between a fox and a ferret and eat and laugh and tell stories without the slightest apprehension.

6. Do not openly criticize your friend’s living & dining arrangements.

7. One may hope for friends at the door, but one is well-advised to anticipate enemies.

8. It is rude to criticize another animal’s story, no matter how wanting in art it might be. Every animal’s story is one of the most important things about him (or her); for animals are storying creatures and live by their tales & the tales they have learnt from others. One’s stories are as important to one’s self-esteem as are one’s fur & whiskers & ought to be admired in much the same way.

9. Young badgers are to be nurtured & guided every day. While learning is important, play is the work of the young. They should have some chores & time to make merry every day.

10. All badgers, regardless of sex, age, & state of health, are important to the well-being of the badger clan and must be honored for the roles they play in maintaining a stable and productive community life.

11. Never wake a sleeping dragon, for your flesh is firm & fat & tastes good grilled.

12. When you’re helping yourself in someone else’s garden or larder, you must be mindful of the others who depend upon the same food. Enough is as good as a feast, & it is a well-mannered badger (or rabbit) who leaves a fair share for the gardener & the cook.

13. It is impolite to inquire about missing ears (or parts of ears), torn fur or feathers, missing paws, & other injuries. Animals are prone to accident & the world is full of traps, snares, & hunting parties.

14. Our badger ancestors have crossed the bridge to the Back of Beyond, but their spirits are constantly with us, in the form of what humans like to call “ghosts.” The prudent badger is mindful of their presence, & always behaves as if he is in the company of watchful elders.

15. It is the better part of wisdom to keep one’s head when one is confronted with catastrophe, calamity, or cataclysm. Losing one’s head never solves anything.

16. The prudent badger assesses the situation, determines a course of action, & speedily gathers the appropriate resources. Such badgers should be called upon for leadership whenever the clan is in need of help.

17. Hold a true friend with both paws, but be willing to let him or her go when the time comes. It is an impropriety to inquire into the whereabouts of one’s absent friends, companions & acquaintances, for life in wood & field is prone to accident.

18. If a fox, (or any other predator) is intent on helping himself to a sitting duck (or any other prey) there’s nothing of consequence a badger can (or should) do about it.

19. Each Rule of Thumb should be honored, as a thousand years of Badger History have proved its usefulness & utility. As a badger grows in age & experience, obedience to the Rules of Thumb is to be tempered with wisdom as each animal faces new dilemmas & enemies.


  1. Ellie,

    I too love badgers and lived right next to a set. Once, in a different spot, I found a badger whose rear end, from left to right, was as wide as my forearm is long. It's length must have been at least three feet. I found that I had cornered him, so backed away gracefully! He did not invite me to sup with him! (see rule 15: have the wisdom to keep one’s head when one is confronted with catastrophe, calamity, or cataclysm - or a cornered badger!)

    The set that was near my house was home to a small family who I only saw two or three times. I have a necklace with badger hair, which came from a badger who had met with a moving car.

    Thanks for sharing your love for the small black and white bear, which the hairs on my chinny, chin, chin, resemble!


  2. Simon, I love your badger stories! I dream of badgers. I've got to make my way out to the US west, so I can meet up with some badgers in this dimension.

    Your stripey-ness is a sign of the balance between light & dark. At least, that's what I'm told the badger's stripey-ness represents. Maybe yours represents wisdom. ;)

  3. Thank you for publishing all the Badger Rules of Thumb in one neat list. Several of these apply to humans especially #17.


Thank you for your comment! I read them all.