Honey Badger

Honey Badger

Ratel

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Suborder
Family
Subfamily
Genus
SPECIES
Mellivora capensis
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
7-26 yrs
TOP SPEED
30 km/h
WEIGHT
5-16 kg
HEIGHT
23-28 cm
LENGTH
77 cm

The Honey badger is a large species of mustelid family. These animals have small eyes and a large skull. The neck and shoulders are strong and muscular. The hind feet of the animal are small, having short claws, whereas the front feet are, conversely, strong and wide, having large claws, which help the animal in catching prey and running. Being thick and loose, their skin is extremely difficult to seize for predators. Meanwhile, it allows the animal to extricate itself and bite the opponent. Different subspecies of the Honey badger vary in color. However, as a general rule, the animal is dark black ventrally, having the characteristic dorsal mantle, which is typically grey or bright white, extending the whole length of its body and turning to black at the base of the tail.

Distibution

Honey badgers occur in Africa, southwestern Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The area of their distribution covers most part of sub-Saharan Africa, stretching from the Western Cape (South Africa) northwards, reaching southern Morocco and southwestern Algeria. In Asia, the badgers are found on Arabian Peninsula, Iran as well as western Asia, from Turkmenistan to the Indian Peninsula. These terrestrial mammals are found in different environments, from tropical and sub-tropical green and riparian forest to desert; from grassland to rocky hills; from open woodland to thorn forest and arid steppe.

Honey Badger habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

The Honey badger is a diurnal animal. Meanwhile, this badger is a solitary animal, typically having a large home range. In addition, they are nomadic, making daily foraging trips; male badgers can travel up to 27 km daily, whereas females tend to make shorter trips of about 10 km per day. After foraging, adult males often congregate to socialize, communicating with each other by grunts, sniffing one another as well as wallowing in the sand. However, honey badgers are commonly known as aggressive animals, so these interactions between males occasionally grow to confrontations, when one of the males tries to enter another's burrow, and they start their dominance dance with each one defending its right to the burrow. Also, when threatened, male badgers tend to aggressively protect their partners.

Diet and Nutrition

The Honey badger is generally carnivorous, consuming snakes, frogs, small species of rodents, birds and eggs. The animal supplements its diet with fruit, bulbs and roots.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
Year-round, peak in September-December
PREGNANCY DURATION
50-70 days
BABY CARRYING
1 kit
INDEPENDENT AGE
1-2 years
FEMALE NAME
sow
MALE NAME
boar
BABY NAME
kit, cub

Honey badgers have a polygynous mating system. Usually, adult males compete with each other for mating rights. Although these animals mate throughout the year, a research, conducted in southern Africa, showed that the peak period of mating is between September and December. Gestation period lasts 50-70 days. There are typically one to two offspring per litter. The baby is born in a burrow, living there for the first 3 months of its life. Soon the young is weaned, usually being cared by its mother for 1-2 years. Males of this species are sexually mature at 2-3 years old, whereas females - much earlier - at 12-16 months of age.

Population

Population threats

Honey badgers are hunted for their skin and claws, which are used in traditional medicine, believed to convey the braveness and savagery of the animal to a human. In addition, the badgers are often trapped and poisoned both intentionally and unintentionally by farmers and apiculturists, who protect their property from predators.

Population number

The exact number of Honey badger's population is presently unknown but decreasing. The species is quite infrequent throughout its wide range, being classified on the IUCN Red List as Least Concern (LC).

Ecological niche

The Honey badger is an opportunistic predator. The animal has a rather diverse diet, hunting on a wide variety of animals and thus keeping in check populations of these species. In addition, older badgers are an easy prey for larger local predators, including leopards, lions and hyenas.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • These animals are known to find and feed upon honey, and this gives them their name - "honey badgers". In addition, they eat bee larvae, despite attacking hives of Africanized Honey Bees or, otherwise called, "killer bees”.
  • Feeding upon honey, they bring humans to honey sites. The Boran people, for example, use these badgers, when looking for honey: they give out a special whistle, which attracts Honeyguides of the area.
  • Honeyguides are a species of bird, leading Honey badgers to hives of bees. Both Honeyguides and Honey badgers feed upon bee larvae. Usually, the Honey badger breaks the beehive, eating larvae, after which the Honeyguide flies into the beehive, eating the scraps left behind.
  • Males of this species are referred to as “boars”, females are called "sows", while young are known as "kits".
  • Honey badgers are amazingly strong and fast diggers. In just a few minutes, the animal can dig a deep hole into hard ground, where it can hide itself.

References

1. Honey Badger Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey_badger
2. Honey Badger on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/41629/0

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