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The Honey Badger – As Tough as They Come

11 Feb 2020 | By Author Thornybush | Wildlife

Africa is filled with creatures struggling in a sometimes-hostile environment, competing for food among some of the most dangerous creatures alive. But which of these is the most fearless in its quest for survival?

World’s most fearless

The honey badger has become known worldwide as the most fearless creature alive, taking on challengers many times larger than its 16kg frame. They are also incredible problem solvers! Just watch this clip of ‘Stofel’ who has become somewhat of a celebrity, thanks to a BBC feature, on his incredible abilities to escape from his enclosure at an animal sanctuary near to Thornybush, in Hoedspruit.

The Facts

The truth is honey badgers have little to fear and are supremely adapted to survive in their environment. Check out these incredible badger facts:

  • The Guinness Book of World Records lists the honey badger as the most fearless creature alive.
  • The Latin name, Mellivora capensis, means ‘honey eater from the Cape’.
  • Known as the ‘Ratel’ in Afrikaans, there is a military Infantry Fighting Vehicle named after this tough little creature.
  • The honey badger is the only species in the subfamily Mellivorinae – which are basically omnivores with a penchant for honey.
  • Decked out with more than just the same colouring as the skunk, the honey badger can also cause a real stink when threatened, courtesy of glands at the base of its tail.
  • They are ferocious diggers and can excavate a burrow for themselves in a matter of minutes, if they can’t find a second-hand one to use.
  • Honey badgers are usually diurnal, especially in winter, but switch to nocturnal habits in order to avoid humans. This explains why they are rarely seen on safari.
  • They will eat anything – roots, fruit, eggs, mammals, birds and reptiles, mainly snakes.
  • Hyenas, lions, leopards and pythons occasionally work up the courage to make a meal out of a honey badger.
  • Honey badgers, apart from being brave and tough can also be nasty characters, picking fights with whatever crosses their path – including porcupines.
  • Their loose, thick and rubbery skin is tough and elastic. Spears and arrows have been known to glance off their hide and they can writhe around to strike out and escape when caught in the mouth of a predator.
  • Their jaws can crush the shell of a tortoise.

See if your ranger can track down one of these interesting creatures on your game drive – if you dare…