When you think about the fiercest animals on Earth, what do you think of? Lions? Tigers? Bears? Oh my! You probably don’t think about the honey badger, do you?
The honey badger sounds — and looks — kind of sweet, doesn’t it? Based upon name alone, the honey badger seems like it might be a cross between a loveable weasel and Winnie the Pooh. Don’t let it fool you! You wouldn’t want to meet a honey badger in a dark alley.
The honey badger — also known by its Afrikaans name: ratel — is a member of the weasel family. It’s related to several other animals, including skunks, otters, ferrets and other types of badgers (although they look more like weasels than other types of badgers).
It gets its English name — honey badger — from the fact that it appears to love honey. Often led by the honeyguide bird, honey badgers will bravely stick their hands and head right into the midst of a buzzing beehive. What they’re really looking for, though, are the bee larvae that can be found in the honey.
Honey badgers can be found throughout Africa, Southwest Asia and India. They are known as extremely tough animals that can survive in harsh conditions. Male honey badgers can weigh up to 30 pounds and regularly patrol a home territory of up to 200 square miles.
So what makes honey badgers so tough? First, they have glands similar to skunks that allow them to keep predators away with a “stink bomb.” They don’t spray like skunks, but potential predators get the message loud and clear.
Honey badgers are also known for being quite mean. They pick fights with all sorts of animals you’d never believe they could conquer…but they do! From venomous snakes to larger mammals, honey badgers can be fearsome foes.
Honey badgers have very tough, thick, loose skin. If an animal grabs a honey badger by the neck, the honey badger can usually twist around and get far enough away to bite back. With extremely sharp teeth and claws, honey badgers don’t lose many battles.
Although honey badgers will eat almost anything, one of their favorite foods is snake. That’s right…even venomous snakes like the puff adder! Although scientists don’t really understand why, honey badgers have developed a resistance to some of the most lethal snake venoms in the world, allowing them to snack on some of the most dangerous snakes on Earth!