The Honey Badger is one of the most bad-ass animals on the planet! They are notorious across Africa for their fearless nature and ferocious temperament. Snakes, crocodiles and even whole prides of lion have all fallen victim to these crafty creatures.

What is the Honey Badger?

The honey badger is a small mustelid species in Africa, southwest Asia, and India. They are also known as ratels, and they are a member of the weasel family. The commonly seen black and white coloration is a subspecies of the honey badger-the most common one being the telanagery ratel. 

There are two other species of honey badgers: the Palawan ratel (Mellivora palawanensis) and the Indian ratel (M. indica). Both species are found in Southeast Asia, with the Palawan ratel being native to the Philippines and surrounding islands and the Indian ratel being found mainly in India. These species have very similar appearances to the common telanagery ratel, though they may be slightly smaller.


What does The Honey Badger look like?

Honey badgers are stocky animals. It has a broad head, short legs, a long body, a longer tail, and thick fur. It has short legs with sharp claws that are perfect for digging and burrowing. Honey badgers range in colour from light gray to black, with white bands on their flanks and backs. Its belly is white or yellowish. Its head is round, and its eyes are small, which gives it a unique appearance. It also has a distinctive black mask across its eyes. They typically reach lengths of up to 31 inches and can weigh up to 30 pounds-though they tend to be smaller in size. 

African Honeybadger moving through the bush
African Honeybadger moving through the bush | Ute von Ludwiger


The honey badger is an incredibly fascinating animal. It has a unique combination of characteristics, such as its fearless attitude, powerful jaws, and sharp claws, that make it one of the toughest animals on the planet. It is also a brave hunter, often taking down animals much more prominent than itself without fear. Honey badgers are considered quite intelligent animals; they have been known to use tools such as rocks to crack open shells and even their claws to dig up roots and bulbs. The honey badger has adapted to living in many different environments, with some even being able to solve puzzles! They are also good swimmers, able to cross rivers and even swim underwater for short distances.

A honey badger is an incredibly resilient animal. They have thick skin that serves as armour from predators, and their fur is very dense-which can make them resistant to bites and stings. Honey badgers are agile climbers, able to scale rocks, trees, or walls quickly. Whether lions, hyenas, or snakes, honey badgers can take on almost anything and come out victorious.

They are primarily solitary creatures but can sometimes be found in pairs or small groups. Honey Badgers have an excellent sense of smell and hearing that helps them hunt and detect predators. Honey badgers are also marvellous diggers and use their sharp claws to dig burrows in the ground where they live and sleep.

One of the fiercest animals in Africa
Honey badger running along a dirt road in Africa | @andywildlifesafari

What Does the Honey Badger Eat?

The honey badger is an opportunistic feeder and will take advantage of any food source. Honey badgers are omnivores, meaning they feed on both plants and animals. They mainly eat small mammals such as rodents, hares, hedgehogs, and birds. They feed on eggs, insects, reptiles, amphibians, honey (hence the name!), fruits, and roots. Honey badgers will also scavenge carrion and sometimes take down larger prey such as wild pigs, antelope, and deer. They have even been seen taking on venomous snakes! Honey badgers are fierce predators that will not hesitate to attack their prey if necessary.

A large honey badger biting into the thick skin of a large rock python in Kruger National Park
Honey badger feeding on a large African Rock Python in Kruger National Park | @kruger2kalahari

How Does the Honey Badger Hunt?

The honey badger is an adept hunter, using its solid forelimbs and long claws to dig after prey. It can also climb trees or even swim when necessary. The honey badger’s powerful jaws can crush the shells of hard-shelled animals such as tortoises. They also hunt in packs, which can be particularly effective when hunting larger animals. 

An African Honey Badger carrying its nile crocodile kill along the road
An African Honey Badger carrying its Nile crocodile kill along the road | @jamie.paterson4

What is the Honey Badger’s Social Life like?

The honey badger is a solitary creature but can occasionally be found in small family groups. They also have a complex series of vocalizations and other communication methods to stay in touch with each other. Honey badgers are fiercely territorial, patrolling their area regularly and vigorously defending it from intruders. They tended to form a hierarchical structure, with the dominant male and female at the top. 

How Does the Honey Badger Reproduce?

The honey badger typically has one litter of two to three cubs per year, with births occurring between April and June. After a gestation period of around six weeks, the cubs are born blind and helpless. Honey Badgers will stay with their mother until they reach sexual maturity at one to two years old. The cubs are fiercely protective of their mother and have been known to fight off predators threatening her or their young. 

Feeding on a bird's egg
Honey Badger feeding on a bird’s egg | @hanno.erasmus.1

Range and Habitat

Where to find Honey Badgers?

The honey badger is found in many parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. This species is home to regions such as India, Pakistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Somalia. It can also be seen in parts of southern Europe, such as Greece and Italy. It is widely distributed throughout central and western Africa and is also found in southern Africa, such as South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. You can even spot the species occasionally as far north as Morocco. It is mainly confined to semi-arid or arid regions in Asia and can also be found in tropical areas such as India. In the Philippines, the Palawan ratel can be found in the forests and mangroves of the island of Palawan.

They inhabit open savannahs, grasslands, woodlands, deserts, and rocky African areas. They are also commonly seen near human dwellings such as farms or villages. Honey badgers have been known to enter homes in search of prey or food scraps. In Asia, they prefer dry grasslands, scrublands, and open forests. They are also commonly spotted in agricultural fields or near water sources such as rivers or lakes. 

Badger prowls through an open pan as a flock of turtle doves feed
A Honey Badger prowling through an open pan as a flock of turtle doves feed | @alebormida


The Honey badger is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List due to its wide distribution and ability to adapt to various habitats. Although it is hunted for its fur and meat, localized populations are not currently facing any significant threat from human activities. However, it is essential to remember that human activities such as habitat destruction and hunting can harm honey badger populations. As such, it is necessary to ensure their habitats are protected to maintain the healthy people of these fascinating creatures.

Honey badger calmly walking along a road at sunset
Honey badger calmly walking along a road at sunset | @mikesutherlandphoto

Threats to The Honey Badger

The honey badger is often hunted for its fur and meat, although this usually happens on a small scale. They are also threatened by habitat destruction due to human activities such as agriculture and development. In addition, they can become prey to larger predators such as lions or leopards when smaller food sources become scarce. The honey badger is usually docile, but it can become aggressive if provoked or threatened —as such, giving these animals their space and respecting their territory is essential. With adequate protection and conservation efforts, this species should remain a common sight in their various habitats throughout Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. 

Although they can be aggressive when provoked, they also play an essential role in the environment by controlling small mammals and invertebrate populations. With the proper protection and conservation efforts, we can ensure healthy people of honey badgers in their various habitats.


Where is the best safari to spot a Honey Badger?

The best place to spot honey badger on safari is in South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia. These countries are home to some of Africa’s most diverse wildlife parks, such as Kruger National Park and Etosha National Park. Here you can find animals, including lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras, and honey badgers. They are usually seen foraging for food during the day or searching for shelter at night. In addition, they are also spotted scavenging around lodges and campsites in search of scraps.

Tips for spotting the Honey Badger on safari

-Keep an eye out for tracks and signs of their presence, such as overturned stones and disturbed vegetation

– It is best to visit an area with a large population of small mammals like rodents, rabbits, and hares. Honey badgers are mainly carnivores, so they will be attracted to these areas in search of food.

-It is also important to remember that honey badgers can become very aggressive when threatened or provoked, so it is wise to keep a safe distance and respect their space if you come across one on your safari.

-Bring a pair of binoculars to observe them from a safe distance.

-Be aware of local laws and regulations regarding the protection of wildlife.

-Although honey badgers are nocturnal, they can often be spotted during the day searching for food. Therefore, it is best to visit an area at different hours of the day and night to increase your chances of spotting one.

-If you’re fortunate enough to see a honey badger on your safari, make the most of it by taking some photos or videos to share with your loved ones. Use caution when photographing wild animals, as flash cameras can cause distress or aggression in some species.

A honey badger emerges from the thick bush
A honey badger emerges from the thick bush | @kruger2kalahari

Tips for Interacting with Honey Badgers

Interacting with wild honey badgers is not recommended, as they can be dangerous. If you encounter one, staying calm and backing away slowly is best. Do not corner or provoke the animal, as this could cause it to become aggressive. Also, ensure to keep any food sources out of reach, as honey badgers are known to scavenge for food opportunistically.

If You Find an Orphaned Honey Badger

If you find an orphaned honey badger, it is essential to contact a wildlife rehabilitator or local veterinarian as soon as possible. Never attempt to handle the animal yourself, as they can be aggressive and dangerous. Additionally, never take them out of the wild or try to keep them as a pet, as this could put them at risk.

Facts about the Honey Badger

  • Scientific Name –  Mellivora capensis, which means ‘honey eater of the Cape.’
  • Habitat – Usually found in open woodland, savannahs, and scrubland.
  • Diet – Omnivorous diet includes small mammals, reptiles, birds, insects, and plants.
  • Life Expectancy – Honey badgers, can live up to 10 years in the wild.
  • Weight – 7-16 lbs (3.2-7.2 kg)
  • Length – 16-28 inches (41-71 cm)
  • Speed – Can reach up to 30 mph (48 km/h)
  • Social Behavior – Honey badgers can be solitary or found in small family groups.
Honey Badger in Erindi National Park
Honey Badger in Erindi National Park | @milesawaytravel

Myths about the Honey Badger

Rabies- Although honey badgers carry rabies, they are not considered high-risk species for transmitting it to humans.

Invincibility- Although they have thick skin and sharp claws, making them formidable predators, the honey badger is not entirely invincible. Like any other animal, they can be injured or killed by larger animals such as lions or leopards.

Fearlessness- The honey badger may appear fearless but is not immune to fear and will flee when threatened.

Magical Creature – The honey badger is not a supernatural creature, despite its impressive abilities. It is simply an animal with unique adaptations that allow it to survive in harsh environments.


The honey badger is an incredibly resilient animal with many adaptations that enable it to survive and thrive in harsh environments. While it’s important to remember that they can become aggressive and dangerous when provoked, it is also a fascinating species to observe on safari. With the proper knowledge and caution, you can safely enjoy watching these intriguing creatures in their natural habitat. Remember: never attempt to handle or keep wild honey badgers as pets, and always contact a wildlife rehabilitator if you come across an orphaned or injured animal.