To evaluate hypotheses on why the European badger Meles meles uses more than one underground burrow (‘sett’) as a diurnal resting site, the distribution and utilisation of setts within territories were recorded for nine radio-tagged individuals in four adjacent social groups in the boreal forest of central Norway. The density of setts was low, but the mean number of setts within a territory (12) was higher than found in earlier studies in Europe. Natural setts were small, and though randomly distributed within territories the upper parts of south-west facing slopes were preferred. Between April and September individual badgers used an average of nine different setts. They moved frequently from one sett to another, except for two reproducing females which remained very faithful to one sett in spring. Random utilisation and frequent changes of setts support the hypothesis that badgers use multiple setts to avoid accumulation of ectoparasites. No indications which support the hypothesis that young badgers use multiple setts to avoid harassment from dominant conspecifics were found.
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Vol. 3 • No. 3/4