The American badger (Taxidea taxus) is a North American badger similar in appearance to the European badger, although not closely related. It is found in the western, central, and northeastern United States, northern Mexico, and south-central Canada to certain areas of southwestern British Columbia. The American badger's habitat is typified by open grasslands with available prey (such as mice, squirrels, and groundhogs). The species prefers areas such as prairie regions with sandy loam soils where it can dig more easily for its prey. The American badger has most of the general characteristics common to badgers; with stocky and low-slung bodies with short, powerful legs, they are identifiable by their huge foreclaws (measuring up to 5 cm in length) and distinctive head markings. American badgers possess morphological characteristics that enables them to be good fossorial specialists such as a conical head, bristles on the ears and nictitating membranes in the eyes. American badgers have powerful forelimbs. They also possess a strong humerus and large bony processes for the attachment of muscles. The mechanical advantage in badger forelimbs is increased by the specialized olecranon process and bones such as the radius and metacarpals. Measuring generally between 60 and 75 cm (23.5 and 29.5 in) in length, males of the species are slightly larger than females. They may attain an average weight of roughly 6.3 to 7.2 kg (14 to 16 lb) for females and up to 8.6 kg (19 lb) for males. Northern subspecies such as T. t. jeffersonii are heavier than the southern subspecies. In the fall, when food is plentiful, adult male badgers can reach up to 11.5 to 15 kg (25 to 33 lb). In some northern populations, females can average 9.5 kg (21 lb). Except for the head, the American badger is covered with a grizzled, brown, black and white coat of coarse hair or fur, giving almost a mixed brown-tan appearance. The coat aids in camouflage in grassland habitat. Its triangular face shows a distinctive black and white pattern, with brown or blackish "badges" marking the cheeks and a white stripe extending from the nose to the base of the head. In the subspecies T. t. berlandieri, the white head stripe extends the full length of the body, to the base of the tail.