Honey Badger

Honey Badger

name = Honey Badger
fossil range = early Pleistocene - Recent
status = LR/lc | status_system = IUCN2.3

image_width = 200px
image_caption = Honey Badger (Ratel)
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Carnivora
familia = Mustelidae
subfamilia = Mellivorinae
genus = "Mellivora"
species = "M. capensis"
binomial = "Mellivora capensis"
binomial_authority = (Schreber, 1776)

The Honey Badger ("Mellivora capensis"), also known as the Ratel, is a member of the Mustelidae family. They are distributed throughout most of Africa and western and south Asian areas of Baluchistan (eastern Iran), southern Iraq, Pakistan and Rajasthan (western India). It is the only species classified in the genus "Mellivora" and the subfamily Mellivorinae. They have been named the most fearless animal [ [http://www.thewebsiteofeverything.com/weblog/pivot/entry.php?id=76 Most fearless animal on "Animal of the Day"] ] in the "Guinness Book of World Records" for a number of years.


Honey badgers are similar in size and build to the European badger, "Meles meles". They are heavily built, with a broad head, small eyes, virtually no external ears, and a relatively blunt snout. The head-and-body length ranges from 60 to 102 cm, plus a tail of 16 to 30 cm. The animal's height at the shoulder can be from 23 to 30 cm. Adult body weights vary from 5.5 to 14 kg. There is a considerable difference between the sizes of the male and female, with males sometimes weighing up to twice as much as females. The weight range for females is 5 to 10 kg, while males range from 9 to 14 kg.


Honey badgers are fierce carnivores with an extremely keen sense of smell. They are well known for their snake killing abilities, by which they will grab a snake behind the head in its jaws and kill it. Honey badgers can devour an entire snake (150 cm/5ft or less) in 15 minutes.

Honey badgers have a great appetite for beehives. There have been cases of dead honey badgers being found stung to death within the hives they were trying to eat. Commercial honey producers do not take kindly to this destruction and sometimes shoot, trap, or poison honey badgers they suspect of damaging their hives, although ratel-proof commercial bee hives have been developed.

Some sources say that a bird, the honeyguide, has a habit of leading honey badgers and other large mammals to bees' nests. When a honey badger breaks into the nest, the birds take their share too. Other sources say that honeyguides are only known to guide humans; see Greater Honeyguide.

The honey badger is among the fiercest hunters in its range, with prey including earthworms, termites, scorpions, porcupines, hares, and even larger prey such as tortoises, crocodiles up to one metre in size, and snakes (including pythons and venomous species). [ [http://www.badgers.org.uk/badgerpages/honey-badger-04.html Honey badger (Mellivora capensis): Food and feeding behaviour ] ] Its ferocious reputation extends to attacks on animals much larger than itself. A popular internet video shows a honey badger bitten by a puff adder, one of the honey badger's preferred venomous snakes, the badger becomes paralyzed for several hours. Once its paralysis has subsided, the honey badger continues with its meal and resumes its journey. Even more tenaciously, the honey badger steals the snake's kill, and eats it for itself before continuing to hunt the snake. This ferocious nature of the badger has earned it its image as a formidable creature.

Honey badgers will also dig into burrows of small rodents and flush them out for a small meal. Because of the honey badger's large front claws, its ability to dig into burrows is very effective and most opportunities once a rodent is located are successful. The problem lies with the fact that other wildlife are aware of this and birds of prey and jackals are usually nearby ready to steal any kills which manage to squeeze past the honey badger.

Honey badgers are also very intelligent animals. They are one of the few animals capable of using tools. In the 1997 documentary series "Land of the Tiger", a honey badger in India was caught on film making use of a tool. The animal rolled a log and stood on it to reach a kingfisher fledgling stuck up in the roots coming from the ceiling in an underground cave. [ [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6222574655784103864&q=land+of+the+tiger&total=271&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=1 India Land of the Tiger பாகம் 4 - ஆங்கிலம் ] ]

It is rumored, though not documented, that honey badgers attack the scrotum of male opponents, who then die of blood loss. [http://www.napak.com/honey_badger_II.html]


Adult honey badgers rarely serve as prey for lions and leopards; their ferocity and thick, loose skin makes it difficult to grip or suffocate them. Old, weak honey badgers are more likely to fall prey to leopards, lions, and pythons, but even old honey badgers will defend themselves as vigorously as possible. In one case, shown on a television programFact|date=July 2008 on Animal Planet, an old female honey badger that was nearly toothless and blind in one eye was attacked by a leopard. It took the leopard approximately one hour to kill the honey badger.

Mating and cubs

Once a female honey badger comes into heat, courtship is very energetic. After days of deliberation, a male is accepted as a mating partner, and the honey badgers will remain in a burrow for 3-4 days of mating. The female badger will give birth to a cub 2 months later. A honey badger cub is almost a complete replica of its mother, and as it grows, it learns to be aggressive to any other creature (e.g., curious jackals) as it travels across the desert. It relies on its mother for food and shelter as they regularly move and she digs new burrows. Cubs can handicap a honey badger's hunting; therefore, they are usually left back at the den, where they can be vulnerable. It has been documented that other honey badgers will drag cubs from their dens and eat them. Due in part to cannibalistic threats such as this, only half of honey badger cubs will live to adulthood.

As the cub grows up, its ability to navigate the tough terrain of the desert improves by learning from its mother to not only walk, but to also climb trees and to chase snakes. The honey badger is not born with these vital skills for survival, they must be learned.

Once a mother comes back into heat and is ready to rear another cub, the other cub is old enough and skilled enough to survive alone, so it makes its own way in the world, leaving its mother behind. This happens a few months after the cub has been born.

Etymology and pronunciation

Ratel is Afrikaans, from Middle Dutch, rattle, honeycomb (either from its cry or its taste for honey). [The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Answers.com 01 Nov. 2006.] In English it is accented on the first syllable, and the "a" is pronounced as in "father."

Urban legend

The Killer badger is a creature found in a number of modern urban myths from Basra (Al Basrah) province, Iraq, where it was said to have attacked both people and livestock. It has since been identified as the honey badger, inflated by rumor. Weaver, Matthew (2007-07-12), " [http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/news/archives/2007/07/12/basra_badger_rumour_mill.html Basra badger rumour mill] ", The Guardian (2007-07-16):Philp, Catherine (2007-07-12), " [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article2062085.ece Bombs, guns, gangs - now Basra falls prey to the monster badger] ", The Times (2007-07-16):Baker, Graeme (2007-07-13), " [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/07/12/wbadger112.xml British troops blamed for badger plague] " The Telegraph (2007-07-16):BBC News (2007-07-12) " [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6295138.stm British blamed for Basra badgers] ", BBC (2007-07-16)]

Nick Saban, head coach of the University of Alabama football team is famous for putting his players in "the honey badger ring," a small circular ring where players must face a live honey badger to build character.



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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Honey badger — Honey Hon ey (h[u^]n [y^]), n. [OE. honi, huni, AS. hunig; akin to OS. honeg, D. & G. honig, OHG. honag, honang, Icel. hunang, Sw. h[*a]ning, Dan. honning, cf. Gr. ko nis dust, Skr. ka[.n]a grain.] 1. A sweet viscid fluid, esp. that collected by… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • honey badger — n. RATEL …   English World dictionary

  • Honey badger — Ratel redirects here. For other uses, see Ratel (disambiguation). Honey badger Temporal range: middle Pliocene – Recent …   Wikipedia

  • honey badger — Ratel Ra tel (r[=a] t[e^]l), n. [F.] (Zo[ o]l.) Any carnivore of the genus {Mellivora}, allied to the weasels and the skunks; called also {honey badger}. [1913 Webster] Note: Several species are known in Africa and India. The Cape ratel… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • honey badger — bitėdis barsukas statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas taksono rangas rūšis atitikmenys: lot. Mellivora capensis angl. honey badger; ratel vok. Honigdachs rus. индийский медоед; лысый барсук; медоед; ратель pranc. ratel ryšiai: platesnis… …   Žinduolių pavadinimų žodynas

  • honey badger — noun nocturnal badger like carnivore of wooded regions of Africa and southern Asia • Syn: ↑ratel, ↑Mellivora capensis • Hypernyms: ↑musteline mammal, ↑mustelid, ↑musteline • Member Holonyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • honey-badger — /ˈhʌni bædʒə/ (say hunee bajuh) noun → ratel. Also, honey ratel …   Australian English dictionary

  • honey badger — ratel. [1880 85] * * * …   Universalium

  • honey badger — noun another term for ratel …   English new terms dictionary

  • honey badger — hon′ey badg er n. zool. mam ratel • Etymology: 1880–85 …   From formal English to slang

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