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Abstract

Digging behaviour while foraging by the European badger (Meles meles) was studied in the Maremma Natural Park, central Italy, during late winter and spring of 1984 and 1985. Badgers digging for Lamellicornia larvae were successful in approximately 77% of the observed digging attempts. Digging success was similar among individuals and months and was positively correlated with the depth of the hole. A change of position while digging was associated with successful digging. Badgers always started their digging activity using only a foreleg at a constant rate and at a later stage used both forelegs alternately at a higher rate. The adoption of such technique is regarded as adaptive since it maximizes the chance of capturing the prey while reducing the energy expenditure due to digging. The reduced availability of those resources to be collected on the ground surface during late winter and spring is suggested as the possible cause of the energetically expensive digging behaviour.