Northern Ireland

Badger of honour for Belfast beast filmed climbing up a tree

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Media captionThe badger was filmed climbing towards a nest box

Badgers are best known for burrowing under the ground and keeping out of sight, not for their climbing abilities, but a group of ecologists at Queen's University in Belfast was shocked when they filmed one scaling its way up a tree.

The animal was caught on camera by the Quercus research group, which was carrying out research at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra, County Down.

The group is carrying out a study into the behaviour of squirrels and said the footage was the last thing they expected to see.

Centre ecologist Dave Tosh said: "It was a total surprise to us. It's the first time here in Northern Ireland that I'm aware of it happening.

"They're most often digging holes, and they have pretty big claws so it would make sense that they might climb a tree but we've never seen it before."

Quercus has been carrying out the research at the site since the beginning of February, with a remote camera placed in the grounds, triggered by movement and heat, that records footage every night.

Image copyright Quercus
Image caption The badger was filmed by a remote camera that records footage when it is triggered by movement and heat

It spotted the badger climbing towards a nest box before retreating back into the ground, but not empty-handed.

'Peanuts'

Mr Tosh said badgers mainly eat earthworms, but that the sneaky badger in the video has developed a taste for food that the group has been leaving in the trees for the squirrels.

Image copyright Quercus
Image caption Once the badger had snagged some peanuts, he scaled down the tree again

"We put peanuts in the trees, which obviously has attracted the badger to the area," he said.

"Badgers have bad eyesight, and they depend on scents to find their way."

But the footage of this bright-eyed, bushy-tailed beast was not for one night only - it seems it is becoming a regular occurrence.

"It keeps coming back every night," Mr Tosh said. "The same badger has tried to climb the tree a number of other times to get the food - it's certainly thrown us!"

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