Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Elevated testosterone levels can lower condition and increase parasites. We analysed testosterone in 84 blood samples of wild European badgers Meles meles collected at regular intervals (winter = mating season; spring = end of mating season; summer = minor mating peak; autumn = reproductive quiescence), and related variation to body condition, subcaudal gland secretion, parasite burden, and bite wounding. All males showed elevated levels in winter and low levels in autumn. In neither season did testosterone correlate with fitness-related parameters. However, two different endocrinological phenotypes existed in spring and summer. Whilst some males lowered their testosterone to levels comparable to autumnal quiescence (Type 1), others maintained elevated levels comparable to those during winter (Type 2). In spring and summer high levels were correlated with lower body condition and increased parasite burden, and Type 2 males tended to suffer higher mortality rates than Type 1. No animals older than 6 years adopted phenotype 2, indicating that males either switch phenotypes with age or that Type 2 results in lower life expectancy, evidencing the costs of male reproduction in badgers.

Original publication




Journal article


J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol

Publication Date





865 - 871


Aging, Animals, Behavior, Animal, Bites and Stings, Male, Mustelidae, Phenotype, Population Density, Scent Glands, Seasons, Sexual Behavior, Animal, Social Behavior, Testosterone, Wound Healing