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 the mustelid family. These animals have small eyes and large skulls. The neck and shoulders are strong and muscular. Their hind feet are small, having short claws, whereas the front feet are, conversely, strong and wide, having large claws, which help badgers in catching prey and running. Being thick and loose, their skin is extremely difficult to seize for predators. Meanwhile, it allows badgers to extricate themselves and bite the opponent. Different subspecies of the Honey badger vary in color. However, as a general rule, these animals are 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.

No

Nocturnal

Ca

Carnivore

Te

Terrestrial

Al

Altricial

Bu

Burrowing

Vi

Viviparous

Pr

Predator

Po

Polygyny

So

Solitary

Do

Dominance hierarchy

No

Not a migrant

H

starts with

Bl

Black And White Animals
(collection)

Distribution

Geography

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 in 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

Habits and Lifestyle

Honey badgers are nocturnal animals but may sometimes be active during the day. They are solitary and typically have a large home range. In addition, they are nomadic, making daily foraging trips; male badgers can travel up to 27 km (16.7 mi) daily, whereas females tend to make shorter trips of about 10 km (3.2 mi) 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 into confrontations, when one of the males tries to enter another's burrow, 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.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Honey badgers are generally carnivorous, consuming snakes, frogs, small species of rodents, birds, and eggs. They also supplement their 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, research, conducted in southern Africa, showed that the peak period of mating is between September and December. The 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 become reproductively 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 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 a wide variety of animals and thus keeping in check populations of these species. In addition, older badgers are easy prey for larger local predators, including leopards, lions, and hyenas.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Honey badgers 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 to 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 the hard ground, where it can hide.

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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