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Badgers are short-legged omnivores in the weasel family, Mustelidae. The 11 species of badger are grouped in three subfamilies: Melinae (9 European badgers), Mellivorinae (the honey badger or ratel) and Taxideinae (the American badger). The Asiatic Stink badgers of the genus Mydaus were formerly included within Melinae (and thus Mustelidae), but recent genetic evidence indicates these are actually members of the skunk family, placing them in the taxonomic family Mephitidae.
Badgers have rather short, fat bodies, with short legs for digging. They have elongated weasel-like heads with small ears. Their tails vary in length depending on species; the stink badger has a very short tail, while the ferret badger's tail can be 46–51 cm (18–20 in) long, depending on age. They have black faces with distinctive white markings, gray bodies with a light-coloured stripe from head to tail, and dark legs with light coloured stomachs. They grow to around 90 centimetres (35 in) in length including tail. The European badger is one of the largest; the American badger, the hog badger and the honey badger are generally a little smaller and lighter. The stink badgers are smaller still, and the ferret badgers are the smallest of all. They weigh around 9.1–11 kg (20–24 lb) on average, with some Eurasian badgers weighing in at around 18 kg (40 lb).