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"‘A Worm Fell into My Mouth. I Gagged’: My Life as a Badger"


(Photo: Felicity McCabe/The Guardian)

Charles Foster has long been fascinated with the lives of animals. But reading about them in books or observing them in the wild wasn't enough for him. He wanted to do more than simply examine how an animal lives its daily life. Foster wanted to experience it himself.

That's why, for a week, he lived in a remote area of Nova Scotia as a badger. He ate worms and grubs, dug a den in the dirt and slept inside, and tried to mimic the physical movement of a wild badger as much as possible. Simon Hattenstone of The Guardian talked to Foster about his musteline adventure:

Did he enjoy it? “Enjoy isn’t the word. But I could feel a lot of toxins were being washed out. That seeded in me something – that in living the life we normally live, we are living a life that isn’t natural. And in order to be properly human, we’ve got to be properly animal.” Foster pauses and looks at me. “Do you think I’m insane?”

Foster has written a book about his experiences as a badger, a fox, a deer, a swift, and an otter. It's called Being a Beast. You can find an excerpt covering his badger time here. He took along his 8-year old son, Tom, for this adventure. Foster writes:

We stumbled up the bank and hollowed out a nest in the bracken. Lying up outside the sett during the day isn’t unbadgerish, although it’s far from the rule. Badgers sometimes, just like we did, crawl into dense vegetation and lie there until dusk comes. We don’t know why; perhaps there’s tension at home and they can’t bear the thought of a day close to wretched, cantankerous, odious X. And sometimes, no doubt, they’ve been caught short a long way from home and don’t want to run the gauntlet of early-morning dog walkers.

Tom needed to sleep, so he did, curled foetally on bracken, his paws, earth-brown from digging, clasped under his chin. I, too, needed to sleep, so I didn’t. We had to change our rhythm to that of the badgers, which meant sleeping in the day, but, at least at first, I found the sett a threatening place. Was this an old fear of burial? A worm fell into my mouth. I gagged quietly and went back to sleep.

-via VA Viper


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After nearly four years studying and mimicking badgers myself, I think he just hung out with the wrong ones. No eating grubs required, just lots of beer, brats, and cheese.
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