Small dogs, particularly terrier type breeds are extremely inquisitive of mammal holes and will find themselves slipping easily through sett entrances and down badger tunnels whilst out walking off the lead.

Firstly, if you own such a breed, it’s your responsibility to keep your dog on a lead in areas where badgers may be present or you can visibly see mammal holes.

Watching your beloved pet disappearing into a badger sett can be very traumatic, not knowing whether the sett is occupied or whether your pet is stuck or worse!

Here is some guidance on what you must do should this happen to you:

Do Not Dig – It’s your first instinct but apart from being an illegal activity, this could seriously hinder and risk the safe retrieval of your pet.

Do … Make a note of where you are; a grid reference is really helpful. Note the time that your dog entered the sett and if its an extensive sett, which entrance.

Do … Call the RSPCA and your local Badger Group.

Do … Keep calling for your dog and listen out for him/her, as this will give you an indication of where he/she might be within the sett.

Do … Place some dog food and water at the entrance to entice your dog out and it’s also worth trying a ‘squeaky’ favourite toy that he/she is familiar with – a ‘worn’ item of clothing that has all the smells of home can be placed at the sett too.


The normal arrangements are that a dog is left for at least 48 hours before any action is taken, as more often than not, the dog will appear within that time.

No action must be taken until all parties are notified, this includes the landowner and Natural England, who will, if needed, provide a licence for any investigative procedure, i.e. a camera probe to be inserted into the sett to pick up any sight or sound of the dog to establish it’s position.

Remember, dogs can survive under ground without food for several days.

Badgers and their setts are protected by law

Always seek advice.