The Most Fearless Animal On Earth
Meet the honey badger, named “world’s most fearless animal” by the Guinness Book of World Records. Its ferocious reputation stems from the fact that the honey badger doesn’t hesitate to attack animals larger than itself. Scorpions, porcupines, snakes, young gazelles, lions and even small crocodiles - everything’s fair game. No surprise then that it is rarely preyed upon. See for yourself how a honey badger’s day goes by…
Here, two honey badgers share a meal with four porcupines in what seems like perfect harmony but don’t be fooled – if hunting for food, honey badgers are known to attack the much larger porcupines.
After this peaceful night, the next day seems more like an eventful wrestling match…
Round 1: The Honey Badger Gathering Snacks
The honey badger or ratel (Mellivora capensis) thrives in arid grasslands and savannahs and can be found throughout Africa and some parts of Asia like eastern Iran, southern Iraq, Pakistan and western India. There, it finds ample mammals and other animals for its rather varied diet.
A honey badger having caught another mammal...
… devouring a dik-dik, a small antelope…
...and chewing on a scorpion:
Honey badgers are small animals, similar in size and build to the European badgers, measuring between 60 and 100 cm (23 and 39 in) from head to body and weighing between 5 and 15 kg (11 to 33 lb). They possess a keen sense of smell and are fierce carnivores that seem perpetually hungry. Known for their snake-killing abilities, scientists are still baffled as to how an animal weighing so little can survive snake bites that would kill a 90 kg (200 lb) human if left untreated.
Honey badger devouring what looks like a snake:
In case you were wondering - the honey badger did not get its name because it is such a sweet animal but for having a sweet tooth. This little critter just loves honey and will go to any length for this treat, breaking into bees’ nests without fear of getting stung. Speaking of nests, ants and termite can also be dealt with.
Honey badger emerging from a termite mound:
But really anything goes – even garbage:
In this video, a honey badger first successfully snatches some food from a leopard’s hiding place in a tree and manages to escape. The advantages of the honey badger’s peculiar colouration become apparent here: The white half merges with the trees at night and the dark half blends with the shadows. Then, for dessert, he raids a beehive.
The clever mammal even uses the help of an equally honey-crazy bird, the aptly named honeyguide. This bird leads honey badgers and other mammals to bees’ nests, lets them do the dirty work of fighting with the bees and getting the honey out and then takes its own share. Talk about a perfect symbiosis!
The following video nicely shows how the honey badger, after attacking the snake of its choice, grabs it behind the neck and kills it. The honey badger devours the cobra’s head first to deal with the deadly fangs and the venom. All in all, one little snake doesn’t take a badger more than 15 minutes to eat…
Yup, even lions do not stop the ferocious little badger. We’re starting to understand where the term badgering comes from…
Don’t show ‘em you’re scared:
Here, a sleeping honey badger is pursued by two lions that linger outside its burrow. A little hesitant about what to do, they soon trot off after the honey badger shows no signs of fear.
Last but not least, the full 2002 National Geographic sequence of the famous honey badger named Kleinman versus a deadly puff adder. He manages not only to eat the puff adder’s catch – a gerbil – in front of the snake’s eyes but then goes on to attack, kill and eat the snake. Don’t miss the tough love mother-child badger sequence at the end.
To be fair, it should be mentioned that the honey badger finds most of its food through digging and inspecting holes and crevices. Honey badgers are also good climbers and can get to food that other animals have hidden in trees. If attacked first, they do use all kinds of defense tactics to intimidate its opponent: First, there’s the colouration that means “hands off” and if that’s not intimidating enough, there’s the stench they can release from their anal scent glands. Only if all that fails do honey badgers revert to attack.
Here’s a short video that sums up the wide variety of prey honey badgers go for and their incredible digging abilities:
The honey badger’s greatest strengths are not so much its claws and sharp teeth as its tenacity. Not to forget guts. While its adversary is thinking: “That little rascal, what nerve!” the honey badger’s already attacked and conquered… Lesson to be learned: Never underestimate determination.