Honey Badger: Wikis


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Honey Badger
Honey Badger (Ratel)
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Subfamily: Mellivorinae
Genus: Mellivora
Storr, 1780
Species: M. capensis
Binomial name
Mellivora capensis
(Schreber, 1776)

The honey badger (Mellivora capensis, Ratel) is a member of the Mustelidae family. The honey badger is 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 in the genus Mellivora and the subfamily Mellivorinae. The badgers have been named the most fearless animal[2] in the Guinness Book of World Records. The underparts, sides of its body and face are usually dark brown or black in color, while the top of its head, neck and back are light gray or white. This coloration makes the honey badger particularly conspicuous in daylight. Some honey badgers, especially in the Ituri Forest of the Democratic Republic Of Congo, are wholly black.



  • Mellivora capensis capensis (Schreber, 1776)
  • Mellivora capensis indica (Kerr, 1792)
  • Mellivora capensis inaurita (Hodgson, 1838)
  • Mellivora capensis buechneri Baryshnikov, 2000 - A new subspecies of the Honey Badger was discovered in Turkmenistan in 2000. It is similar to the subspecies M. c. indica and M. c. inaurita, but has differences including a larger size.[3]


Dorsal and lateral views of the brain of the honey badger (Mellivora capensis indica).

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. Males sometimes weigh twice as much as females. The weight range for females is 5 to 10 kg, while males range from 9 to 14 kg. Their small size can be deceiving to many would be predators. There have been numerous accounts where lions, tigers and bears have been killed when trying to eat a honey badger.It has been very famous in Pakistan that this animal takes away dead bodies from graves.This animal is famous with the name"BIJJU" in Pakistan.



The honey badger is found in arid grasslands and savannahs. Honey badgers are fierce carnivores with a keen sense of smell. They are known for their snake-killing abilities; they use their jaws to grab a snake behind its head and kill it. Honey badgers can devour a snake (150 cm/5ft or less) in 15 minutes.

Badgers have a large appetite for beehives. Commercial honey producers do not take kindly to this destruction and sometimes shoot, trap, or poison badgers they suspect of damaging their hives, although badger-proof commercial bee hives have been developed.

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

The badger is among the fiercest hunters in its range, with prey including earthworms, insects, scorpions, porcupines, hares, ground squirrels, meerkats, mongooses, and larger prey such as tortoises, crocodiles up to one metre in size, young gazelle and snakes (including pythons and venomous species). They also take out lizards, frogs small rodents, birds and fruit.[4] The badger's ferocious reputation reflects its tendency to attack animals larger than itself; it is seldom preyed upon.


In a 2002 National Geographic documentary titled "Snake killers: Honey badgers of the Kalahari", a badger named Kleinman was documented stealing a meal out of a puff adder's mouth and casually eating the meal in front of the hissing snake. After the meal, Kleinman began to hunt the puff adder, the species being one of the badger's preferred venomous snakes. He managed to kill the snake and began eating it, but then collapsed on the dead snake as he had been bitten during the struggle. After about two hours he surprisingly awoke. Once his paralysis had subsided, the badger continued with his meal and then resumed his journey.[5]

Honey badgers will dig into burrows of small rodents and flush them out for a small meal. The badger's large front claws make it adept at digging, and it is usually successful at capturing rodents. Birds of prey and jackals, aware of the honey badger's successful hunting strategies, tend to follow badgers and attempt to steal their kills.

Honey badgers are intelligent animals,and are one of few species capable of using tools. In the 1997 documentary series Land of the Tiger, a honey badger in India was filmed 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.[6]

The honey badger is predominantly solitary, although small family groups of up to three individuals are occasionally seen. They are nomadic and range over huge areas, which for an adult male may be as large as 600 km2.[7]

In a recent study (2009) undertaken by the magazine Scientific American it has been found that pound for pound the honey badger is the world's most fearsome land mammal as a result of its favourable claw to body ratio and aggressive behavioural tendencies.


Adult honey badgers rarely serve as prey for pythons, wolves, bears, lions, tigers and leopards; their ferocity and thick, loose skin makes it difficult to grip or suffocate them. It is able to twist inside its own skin and bite whatever is holding it.

Mating and cubs

Zoo Prague

Once a female honey badger comes into heat, courtship is energetic. After days of deliberation, a male is accepted as a mating partner, and the badgers will remain in a burrow for three to four days of mating. The female badger will give birth to a cub two months later. 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 badger's hunting; therefore, they are usually left at the den, where they can be vulnerable. Other honey badgers may drag cubs from their dens and eat them. Due in part to cannibalistic threats such as this, only half of badger cubs 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 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.

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Regardless of its fierce temperament, the honey badger's low birth rate makes it vulnerable to hunting and habitat destruction. They are scorned and hunted by farmers who own commercial beehives and believe this animal to be a threat to their livelihoods. Many badgers are killed by farmers or stung to death by bees after becoming snared in a hive trap. [7] The Endangered Wildlife Trust of South Africa works to save the honey badger and other African species of animals from extinction. They sell realistic looking fluffy toys of various African animals including a mother and baby honey badger.

Etymology and pronunciation

Ratel is Afrikaans, from Middle Dutch, rattle, honeycomb (either from its cry or its taste for honey).[8] In English it is accented on the first syllable, with the "a" is pronounced either as in "rate", /ˈreɪtəl/, or as "father", /ˈrɑːtəl/.

In Literature

Two non-fiction books describe the process of bringing up an orphaned honey badger. They are "Wild Honey", by Bookey Peek and "The Wilderness Family" by Kobie Kruger. In her book, Peek wrote that her husband, Rich, "had worked with wild animals all his life but of all of them, Badger impressed him the most." Despite his fearsome reputation, the honey badger can be a lovable companion to people. Both books testify to the badger's courage, intelligence and playful nature.

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 rumour. [9][10][11][12] The honey badger is prominent in African myth. In one legend God created a contest between a honey badger and a pangolin to deem who would be allowed to eat honey. The honey badger poured honey from a pot on the sleeping pangolin. He then led the honey trail to a nest of ants. The ants stung the sleeping pangolin causing his skin to become tough and scaly. The creator deemed from then on that pangolin would eat ants and that honey badger would be allowed to feast on honey. A modern fairytale with honey badgers is called 'Honey Badgers' by Jamison Odone. In this witty tale, a honey badger couple find a human baby in a basket and decide to adopt him.

It was also mentioned by Jeremy Clarkson on BBC Top Gear's Botswana Special, that "A Honey Badger does not kill you to eat you. It tears off your testicles".[13]

It is mentioned again by Clarkson, when naming dangerous animals that do not exist in South America in the Bolivia Special.


  1. ^ Begg, K., Begg, C. & Abramov, A. (2008). Mellivora capensis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 21 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
  2. ^ The deadliest creatures on Earth?
  3. ^ Baryshnikov G. (2000). "A new subspecies of the honey badger Mellivora capensis from Central Asia". Acta theriologica 45(1): 45-55. abstract.
  4. ^ Honey badger (Mellivora capensis): Food and feeding behaviour
  5. ^ More info on the documentary Snake killers: Honey badgers of the Kalahari
  6. ^ India Land of the Tiger பாகம் 4 - ஆங்கிலம்
  7. ^ a b Piper, Ross (2007), Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals, Greenwood Press.
  8. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. Answers.com 01 Nov. 2006.
  9. ^ Weaver, Matthew (2007-07-12), "Basra badger rumour mill", The Guardian (2007-07-16)
  10. ^ Philp, Catherine (2007-07-12), "Bombs, guns, gangs - now Basra falls prey to the monster badger", The Times (2007-07-16)
  11. ^ Baker, Graeme (2007-07-13), "British troops blamed for badger plague" The Telegraph (2007-07-16)
  12. ^ BBC News (2007-07-12) "British blamed for Basra badgers", BBC (2007-07-16)
  13. ^ BBC Top Gear (2009-05-24),"Top gear - Botswana special - African special Part 4 ", BBC(2009-04-15)


Rare morph variation

External links


Simple English

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).

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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. Honey Badgers are cute but can be dangerous.


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