Honey badgers, also known as “ratels,” are notoriously tough members of the weasel family, known for their tough skin and vicious demeanor. Though they are called the honey badger, they are actually less closely related to badgers than previously thought. Honey badgers are the world’s most fearless creature is the Honey Badger, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
How The Honey Badger Got His Name
They take their name from their predation of bees and their unique foraging relationship with the greater honeyguide. The small bird leads a honey badger to a beehive and then waits patiently for the honey badger to open up the hive and eat its fill of the honey and bee larvae. Once the honey badger leaves the hive, the honeyguide will then feed on the remaining beeswax
Description of the Honey Badger
Ratels look more like a weasel than they do a badger. These creatures are long-bodied, with short legs and a broad girth. They have very loose and thick skin, giving them the ability to turn freely and fight when grabbed. They have long, coarse fur that lacks an undercoat. The fur on their back is white or grey, and from the shoulders down they are black.
Habitat of the Honey Badger
Ratels are fans of dry habitats where they can dig up burrowing creatures and tear open dried trees. They are also found in forests as well as grasslands. They use their powerful front claws to dig a long burrow to sleep and bear their young. With such a quarrelsome animal it should be no surprise that they are more than willing to steal the burrows of other creatures!
Diet of the Honey Badger
These predators are not particularly picky eaters. They will consume just about anything that is edible, making them opportunistic feeders. As anyone with a sweet tooth will know, honey is delicious, and honey badgers agree!
While they enjoy hunting and tearing apart bees’ nests, it is definitely not the only thing they will feast on. Some of the items on their menu include rodents, birds, insects, reptiles, frogs, fruits, vegetables, and berries.
Facts about Honey Badgers
- Honey Badgers get their name from their propensity to seek out and eat honey and bee larvae. They even have no problems with attacking Africanized Honey Bee (“killer bees”) hives.
- Honeyguides are a type of bird that will lead Honey Badgers to beehives. The bird will then wait for the Honey Badger to break open the beehive and to have its fill. Once the Honey Badger has left, the Honeyguide will fly in and eat the leftover larvae and beeswax.
- Honey Badgers are able to dig quickly into hard earth. Within a few minutes, they can dig a hole deep enough to hide themselves.
- The Honey Badger is also commonly known as Ratel and scientifically as: Mellivora capensis. They primarily live in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and India. Despite the name, they more closely resemble weasels than badgers. In captivity, they live around 24 years. No one knows how long they typically live in the wild.
- Honey Badgers usually hunt and live alone. However, during breeding season they have been observed to hunt together. Their homes are typically dug holes with a passage to a bare nesting area.
- A Honey Badger eats a variety of food items including porcupines, small crocodiles, berries, roots, scorpions, snakes, eggs, insects, rodents, birds, fruit, frogs, human corpses, honey, sheep, horses, etc. Basically, if they can kill it or come across the dead body of the animal, they’ll eat it. They also like to eat fruits and melons, which, along with blood, is often one of their primary sources for water. Snakes typically account for about half the total food Honey Badgers eat.
- One method Honey Badgers use when attacking larger prey is to castrate them and then wait for the animal to weaken from bleeding.
- Male Honey Badgers typically have a home area of around 200 square miles. Females have a home area of around 50 square miles. Because of their very large home range areas, Honey Badgers populations are in dramatic decline, with the Honey Badger’s areas more and more including areas of large human population. They also have low reproductive rates (typically one new badger per birthing).
- Honey Badger females are called “sows”. Male Honey Badgers are called “boars”. Their young are called “kits”.
- Honeyguides are also known to lead humans to honey, so that they can feed on the scraps left behind. The Boran people particularly use a special type of whistle to try to attract a Honeyguide when they want to search for honey.