The World’s Most Fearless Creature is the Honey Badger

Daven Hiskey 16
Today I found out the world’s most fearless creature is the Honey Badger, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Honey Badgers have many reasons to be fearless.  They have very thick (about 1/4 inches), rubbery skin, which is so tough that it’s been shown to be nearly impervious to traditionally made arrows and spears.  Further, their skin can take a full blow from a sharp machete without necessarily cutting the skin all the way through.  More practically, this skin helps protect the Honey Badger from the teeth of predators.

Along with being thick and very tough, the Honey Badger’s skin is also fairly loose, which allows it quite a bit of freedom of movement within the skin. This particularly aids it when it’s being attacked by larger predators and finds itself in the predator’s clutches.  It can then squirm about in its skin and get its long claws and mouth with sharp teeth in such a position to harm the predator that is holding it.  This makes it particularly unsafe for an animal to hold the Honey Badger in its jaws, unless it kills it instantly, which is difficult.  The Honey Badger can simply squirm around and viciously attack the creature’s face and eyes.  While the Honey Badger might ultimately die in such an encounter.  The animal that killed it will likely think twice before attacking another Honey Badger.  It turns out, there is almost no safe place to hold a Honey Badger without it being able to get itself in a position to attack you.  It is thought that if you managed to grab the Honey Badger by the back of the neck and hold it at arms length in the air, that this may be a safe way to hold one, but not a lot of volunteers are out there to test this theory.

Along with sharp teeth, Honey Badgers also have incredibly powerful jaws.  This is helpful due to the fact that the Honey Badger will eat every part of its prey, including the bones.  The jaws are even powerful enough to eat a turtle, including the shell, without difficulty.

Not only this, but they are naturally not very affected by many types of stings and venom.  They can even get bitten by King Cobras and Puff Adders multiple times with little effect, though a strike from something like a Puff Adder that manages to actually penetrate their skin will eventually knock the Honey Badger out for a couple hours. Although it is not known exactly how the Honey Badger’s body resists the effects of these types of deadly venom, it is thought that if the snakes could strike them enough, it’s likely the venom would eventually kill the Honey Badger.  Unfortunately for the snake though, they are unlikely to survive long enough in a battle with a Honey Badger to strike it enough to kill it. Further, it takes time for the venom to take effect, so even if they manage to knock it out, the snake will likely already be dead when this happens.

Along with its innate toughness, the Honey Badger is also incredibly intelligent. It has even been observed using tools to catch prey.  They also are smart enough to follow Honeyguide birds to find beehives where they’ll eat the larvae and honey.

Interestingly, the Honey Badger also has a reversible anal pouch which has an incredibly strong, stifling odor.  They have been observed to use this stench as an additional form of defense against large predators like lions.

This combination of remarkable innate defensive and offensive capabilities has resulted in the Honey Badger seemingly fearing few things.  Their aggressiveness has also resulted in few predators, which normally might try to eat something the Honey Badger’s size, choosing to avoid the animal.  Even predators such as lions and leopards tend to give the Honey Badger a large berth, though Honey Badgers have been known to be killed by lions and leopards.  At the same time, though, they’ve also been observed to chase lions off of a kill and take it for their own, including one instance where three Honey Badgers chased off seven lions from a kill the lions were eating, fearless indeed.

Bonus Facts:

  • Honey Badgers get their name from their propensity to seek out and eat honey and bee larvae.  They even have no problems with attacking Africanized Honey Bee (“killer bees”) hives.
  • Honeyguides are a type of bird that will lead Honey Badgers to beehives.  The bird will then wait for the Honey Badger to break open the beehive and to have its fill.  Once the Honey Badger has left, the Honeyguide will fly in and eat the leftover larvae and beeswax.
  • Honey Badgers are able to dig quickly into hard earth.  Within a few minutes they can dig a hole deep enough to hide themselves.
  • The Honey Badger is also commonly known as Ratel and scientifically as: Mellivora capensis.  They primarily live in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and India.  Despite the name, they more closely resemble weasels than badgers.  In captivity, they live around 24 years.  No one knows how long they typically live in the wild.
  • Honey Badgers usually hunt and live alone.  However, during breeding season they have been observed to hunt together.  Their homes are typically dug holes with a passage to a bare nesting area.
  • A Honey Badger eats a variety of food items including: porcupines, small crocodiles, berries, roots, scorpions, snakes, eggs, insects, rodents, birds, fruit, frogs, human corpses, honey, sheep, horses, etc.  Basically, if they can kill it or come across the dead body of the animal, they’ll eat it.  They also like to eat fruits and melons, which, along with blood, is often one of their primary sources for water.  Snakes typically account for about half the total food Honey Badgers eat.
  • One method Honey Badgers use when attacking larger prey is to castrate them and then wait for the animal to weaken from bleeding.
  • Male Honey Badgers typically have a home area of around 200 square miles.  Females have a home area of around 50 square miles.  Because of their very large home range areas, Honey Badgers populations are in dramatic decline, with the Honey Badger’s areas more and more including areas of large human population.  They also have low reproductive rates (typically one new badger per birthing).
  • Honey Badger females are called “sows”.  Male Honey Badgers are called “boars”.  Their young are called “kits”.
  • Honeyguides are also known to lead humans to honey, so that they can feed on the scraps left behind. The Boran people particularly use a special type of whistle to try to attract a Honeyguide when they want to search for honey.

Expand for References:

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16 Comments »

  1. Reality Check August 9, 2011 at 8:40 am - Reply

    “Even predators such as lions and leopards tend to give the Honey Badger a large birth, though Honey Badgers have been known to be killed by lions and leopards.”

    Large BERTH. If they gave them a large birth, the Honey Badger would probably just eat it.

    Berth means: Sufficient space for a ship to maneuver; sea room: as in kept a clear berth of the reefs.

  2. Tom August 9, 2011 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    Sure, but how well do they stand up to military ordinance, nuclear weapons, supernovas, or black holes? I thought so.

    • justin November 21, 2013 at 7:36 am - Reply

      wouldn’t most things die form bombs and any type of human weapons of mass destruction but they are fearless they fight lions and tigers even kill snakes would you survive a supernoava or a nuclear bomb

  3. SavageDisaster August 11, 2011 at 11:26 am - Reply

    They may die by those things, but they would definitely not fear them.

  4. Steev August 13, 2011 at 4:27 am - Reply

    The Wolverine would give it a run for its money.(And I am not talking about a fictional superhero with swords sticking out of his knuckles either)

  5. Phillip August 14, 2011 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    A little behind the times with the whole Honey Badger thing…

  6. SAMISAWESOME February 1, 2012 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    Honey Badgers are awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Kenneth October 30, 2012 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    Daven,
    I must correct you regarding the “killer bees”. The strain known as killer bees is an African – European hybrid that was developed in Brazil, not the African honey bee species.

    • Daven Hiskey
      Daven Hiskey October 30, 2012 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      @Kenneth: Yep (see the Bonus Bee Facts in that article). I wasn’t meaning to imply they were from Africa, but rather they were “Africanized bees”, which is the name of killer bees, but obviously I put “African” for some reason. Thanks for pointing it out. Fixed!

  8. Jamie June 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    They just don’t give a – you know… :)

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