A brief guide to assist landowners, developers and others who require knowing whether or not badgers may exist on their land

Badgers are protected by law.

The protection of Badgers Act 1992 prevents injury to and the disturbance of badgers.  It also defines and protects their setts.  You must not disturb a badger or its sett without obtaining a licence from Natural England. 

It is your responsibility to identify the presence of badgers.  Ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law.

What is a sett?

A sett is defined as a hole currently occupied by badgers.

Below is a picture of a woodland scene depicting a badger sett as well as rabbit holes and a fox earth.

Please remember badger setts can be found in a variety of other habitats.

A fox earth is depicted to the left of the setts at the base of a tree.  A fox hole is higher and narrower than a badgers, it is an upright oval in shape and is  roughly the size of this sheet when stood on end.  To the right of the picture are three rabbit holes, identifiable by their smaller size, they are generally the size of this sheet folded in half.  Scratch marks and animal paths are also shown as you may find them in the vicinity of a badger sett. Note the three sett entrances in the centre of the picture, they are oval flat holes usually accompanied by spoil heaps thrown out by the industrious badger.  A badger hole in size is roughly the same as this information sheet when laid on its side, so why not use this sheet as a guide.


Badgers have distinctive footprints with five claws and base pads on each paw.  This is very different from a fox’s footprint which is more like a dogs.

Note:  the picture depicts both front and hind paws of a badger, the front paw is however larger.


Rabbit footprints are much smaller than a badger or fox and resembles neither.


Never miss man’s best friend who can always be relied on to be rooting around wild animal holes.


The fox has only four claw marks in it’s footprint. There is no way it can be mistaken for a badger print.


Ferrets are also worth bearing in mind especially where there are rabbits.  The rabbit catcher may have been around.  Their footprints are also similar to the mink.


Cats are mobile creatures and can often be found around rabbit warrens and badger setts