Honey badger

Well known for their ferocity, these fearless little creatures are always ready to take on an entire pride of lions

Derek Keats

The Honey Badger, often referred to as the ratel, is one of the most notorious and resilient members of the weasel family (Mustelidae), celebrated for its strength, tenacity, and fearsome reputation. Found across a wide range of habitats in Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent, the honey badger has adapted to environments ranging from dense forests to arid deserts.

Their physique is built for survival. They possess a remarkably large head in proportion to their body, small eyes shielded by thick eyelids, and a muscular neck and shoulders that provide the strength necessary for digging and combat. Their front feet are equipped with broad, robust claws that are essential for excavating burrows, climbing, and seizing prey, while their smaller rear feet facilitate swift and agile movement.

One of the honey badger’s most distinctive features is its skin, which is incredibly thick, loose, and almost impervious to traditional predator attacks, including bites and stings. This physical trait allows them to twist and turn within their skin to fend off or counterattack predators even when seemingly caught. Additionally, their dark fur with a striking white or grey mantle running from their head down their back makes them easily recognizable, though coloration can vary among subspecies.

Honey badgers exhibit remarkable versatility in their behavior. While primarily nocturnal, they are known to forage during the day, especially in areas undisturbed by human activity. Their diet is omnivorous but leans heavily towards carnivory, with a preference for snakes, including venomous species, small mammals, birds, eggs, and frogs. Their powerful jaws and sharp teeth enable them to consume virtually every part of their prey, including bones.

Notably, honey badgers also consume fruit, bulbs, and roots, demonstrating their adaptability in sourcing food. Their infamous pursuit of honey, raiding beehives with an almost reckless disregard for bee stings, showcases their determination and resourcefulness in exploiting available food sources.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Algeria
2015
Angola
2015
Benin
2015
Botswana
2015
Burkina Faso
2015
Burundi
2015
Cameroon
2015
Central Af. Rep.
2015
Chad
2015
Congo-Brazzaville
2015
Côte D’ivoire
2015
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
2015
Djibouti
2015
Equatorial Guinea
2015
Eritrea
2015
Eswatini
2015
Ethiopia
2015
Gabon
2015
Gambia
2015
Ghana
2015
Guinea-Bissau
2015
Guinea
2015
India
2015
Iran
2015
Iraq
2015
Israel
CR
2023
Probably extinct
Jordan
2015
Kazakhstan
2015
Kenya
2015
Kuwait
2015
Lebanon
2015
Liberia
2015
Malawi
2015
Mali
2015
Mauritania
2015
Morocco
2015
Mozambique
2015
Namibia
2015
Nepal
2015
Niger
2015
Nigeria
2015
Oman
2015
Pakistan
2015
Qatar
2015
Rwanda
2015
Saudi Arabia
2015
Senegal
2015
Sierra Leone
2015
Somalia
2015
South Africa
2015
Sudan
2015
Tanzania
2015
Togo
2015
Turkmenistan
2015
UAE
2015
Uganda
2015
Uzbekistan
2015
Yemen
2015
Zambia
2015
Zimbabwe
2015

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No