The honey badger  - Is this the world's most fearless creature?

The honey badger comes with a well-deserved reputation.

Try this - if you Google " the world's most fearless creature" - who do you find? Likely you will see this fierce little African animal in the results.

It is also the world’s most fearless creature according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

So have you ever wondered ?

  • How are honey badgers so tough?
  • Are they really fearless?
  • Do they actually eat honey?
  • What habitat do they prefer?
  • Are they endangered?

How are honey badgers so tough?

These wildlife animals are well equipped to live up to its fearsome reputation.

honey badger inormation

There are accounts that they have killed a blue wildebeest, a waterbuck and a 3-meter python.

It definitely attacks fearlessly when threatened and reputedly have also put up savage resistance against a lion.

The antelope victims apparently bled to death after having the scrotum torn off.

It is thus no wonder that much larger predators usually give them a wide berth.

It is stocky and compact in build and in addition to this it has

  • a thick skull,
  • a strong neck and shoulders.

Honey badgers are also known as "ratels"

Their distinctive black and white pattern is undoubtedly a warning to other animals to stay clear.

Under threat a ratel gives high-pitched growl.

When they are  under extreme duress may release a foul-smelling secretion from its anal glands.

That it uses this secretion to gas bees are probably a myth.

Do they actually eat honey?

Yes, it is well known that they have a fondness for honey and are notorious for raiding beehives.

When the ratel finds the hive it plunders it while emitting smelly, suffocating secretions from its anal glands in order to fumigate the hive.

This causes most of the bees to flee while it scoops out the honeycomb.

When the badger then leaves, the bird eats the remaining dead bees and pieces of honeycomb.

The thick skin of this animal may offer protection from bee stings.

They are however not impervious to them and bee stings may in fact account for some of their deaths.

Is it true that they cooperate with Honeguide birds to find honey?

The stories are that Greater honey guide bird supposedly guides them to the beehives by calling them and repeatedly fanning its tail, displaying the white outer feathers.

The bird then swoops from tree to tree and waits for the animal to follow it to the bee's nest.

Apparently the honey badger will answer the bird with a grunting and growling sound.

honey badger facts

This African animal is however a very nocturnal animal and doubt exists about how reliable a partner the Greater honeyguide bird would make as a mainly diurnal animal.

This issue is still contentious and despite the many cited stories remains to be undocumented.

What habitat do they prefer?

They are active at any time of the day and night but they become nocturnal where there is human disturbance.

They can tolerate both very wet and very dry habitats.

honey badger facts

You can expect to see them in moist savanna, semi-desert and forest areas.

They are nearly always solitary although sometimes pairs can be seen together.

When they move slowly, sniffing for prey with its nose close to the ground.

They liberally apply scent markings to crevices, holes and the base of trees while they move.

They sleep in rock crevices or in holes in the ground that they dig themselves or take over from other animals.

What do honey badgers eat?

A ratel will eat a variety of foods  including:

  • rodents of all sizes,
  • reptiles,
  • amphibians,
  • fruit,
  • insects and
  • ground nesting birds.

It will also climb into trees to get at birds' nests and bees' honey.

This little African animal is extremely strong and it uses the long, sharp claws of its front feet to dig

  • rodents,
  • scorpions and
  • baboon spiders

out of the ground.

They often tear apart tree logs to get at the insect larvae and beetles inside.

Other small predators like black-backed jackal may shadow a honey badger hoping to grab prey that may escape the badger.

What other mammals will they eat?

In terms of small mammals their intake consists of 30% mice.

Scorpions and spiders make up 14%, lizards 18% and snakes 18% of their mammal intake.

Most of its prey is dug out of burrows.

Are honey badgers endangered?

Because of raiding honey they do face increasingly hostile challenge from beekeepers.

Beekeepers are not prepared to lose large amounts of their honey to the badgers.

The result is that they are increasingly poisoned, trapped, and shot.

They also suffer indirect persecution through indiscriminate poisoning and trapping for jackal and caracal.

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