NEAR TWO DOT – Ranches are often home to a variety of animals, including cows, horses, sheep, and of course pets like cats and dogs. But for one Montana ranch family, they have a pet that’s truly one of a kind.
Fifteen years ago, Mac White found an abandoned baby badger in his pickup’s snow track on their McFarland-White Ranch near Two Dot in Wheatland County. He decided it would make the perfect Mother’s Day present for his wife Melody.
When she got home she reached into a pet crate and grabbed what she thought was a puppy – and pulled it out and realized it was a badger.
Basically, the badger – which they later named Gilbert – had been sacrificed to the great badger gods in the sky by his mother and they weren’t sure how to take him back.
Having a pet badger takes a little getting used to.
Melody said, “You live with the badger, he doesn’t live with you. He dictates how you behave around him. If you can keep his mouth busy you’re safe. If you don’t and you startle him you’re bit.”
As for food, Gilbert likes dog food, cat food, and carrots – and his favorites are cantaloupe and watermelon. He also really likes fudgesicles.
Gilbert is definitely a bit of a legend in the area. He’s not just a unique pet. More importantly, he’s one of the beloved family members at the McFarland-White Ranch.
Reporting by Russell Nemetz for MTN News
The Montana Field Guide says of badgers:
Remarkably adapted morphologically for burrowing and feeding on burrowing prey. A stout, compact, heavy-bodied animal built low to the ground, with partially webbed toes and long claws to aid in digging. It is the only true fossorial carnivore in North America and thus unique in appearance.
A yellowish-gray mammal with a white stripe over the top of its head, white cheeks, black feet, and a black spot in front of each ear. The belly and short tail are yellowish. Pelage is composed of under-fur with longer guard hairs. Because of their shaggy coat and short stature, badgers appear to flow along the ground.
Total length: 22 to 28 inches. Weight: 13 to 25 pounds. A heavy-bodied, short-legged mammal with long foreclaws, long fur (longest on the sides), and a short bushy tail; upperparts are yellowish gray to reddish brown, with a white middorsal stripe extending from the snout to the neck or shoulders in the north and usually to the rump in the south; black patches are present on the face and cheeks; underparts are buffy, except for the whitish chin, throat, and mid-ventral region; feet are dark brown to black; head and body length 42 to 72 cm, tail length 10 to 15.5 cm, mass 4 to 12 kg.
Very efficient predator of fossorial and semifossorial prey. However, an opportunistic feeder and supplements its diet with a variety of mammals, birds, eggs, reptiles, amphibians, and plants.