Honey Badgers: The Beehive Raiders

Contributor: Jay Gregorio. Lesson ID: 13359

Think of the most fearsome creature in nature. Are you picturing a badger who loves honey? Probably not. But after learning about the clever and fearless weasel that is the honey badger, you will!


Life Science

learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Look at the honey badger below:

honey badger

  • Would you believe this is the "most fearless animal in the world" according to the Guinness Book of Records?

It is true! From its physical characteristics to its behavior within the ecosystem, the honey badger has earned its reputation.

  • Are they really untouchable?
  • Do any animals dare to challenge them in a fight?

Explore what makes them an incredible creature and how they survive in the wild.

Honey badgers are also known as ratels; however, their scientific name is Mellivora capensis.

They are part of the weasel family and are related to skunks, otters, and ferrets.

Honey badgers earned their name because of their skill in raiding beehives. They aren't just after the sweet honey, though. They also eat the bee larvae.

Honey badgers are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. In addition to the honey and bee larvae, they eat other mammals, reptiles, birds, roots, bulbs, and fruits.

While they are skilled hunters, honey badgers will occasionally steal from other carnivores when they get the chance.

Physical Characteristics

honey badger

  Size: 9-11 inches high by the shoulder
  Weight: 13-30 lbs
  Life Span: up to 7 years


Honey badgers are able to stay tough when facing an enemy because of their physical characteristics.

They have a stocky, flattened body with short, strong legs covered with thick, coarse hair. Their coats have a broad and course saddle of grey hair running from above the eyes to the base of their tail, which contrasts starkly with their black underparts.

Honey badgers have massive, sharp claws that they use to dig and as formidable weapons.

honey badger claws

They generally stay on the ground, but they can also climb up trees especially when they are motivated by honey.

Honey badgers are known as tireless creatures, who will trail their prey patiently until they have an opportunity to attack.

Their skin is as thick as rubber and is nearly impossible to penetrate, even with an arrow. A honey badger could fight with a porcupine and not get hurt!

Their teeth are strong enough to eat the shell of a turtle

honey badger eating a turtle

The usual predators of honey badgers are big cats like leopards and lions.

Behavior and Other Characteristics

Honey badgers have a reputation for ending every fight they start.

Their skin is loose, which allows them to squirm free from the grips of any predator. They will then turn and attack their opponent in the most vulnerable areas such as the face, eyes, or scrotum. Once it delivers a serious wound, the honey badger will simply allow its predator to bleed out.

No wonder any predator should think twice before attacking a honey badger!

Watch the honey badger portion of 10 Most Aggressive Animals in the World from 4 Ever Green:

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Honey badgers don't just look like their relative the skunk. They also have a dangerous gland at the base of their tails containing a stinky liquid. They are very territorial and will release this nasty smelling chemical to warn other animals to "go away!"

As if all of these defenses were not enough, honey badgers also have immunity to snake venom!

If a honey badger is bitten by a poisonous snake, it may pass out for a few hours but will eventually recover completely. Watch the video at the top of Honey Badger: Snake Slayer, from National Geographic, to see a honey badger in action!

Then, discover 11 Fierce Facts About the Honey Badger, by Caitlin Schneider for Mental Floss.

Adaptation to the Environment

Honey badgers are found in a wide variety of environmental conditions. They thrive throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and western Asia. They can adapt to a variety of conditions, from warm rain forests to cooler mountainous regions.

Many animals that are considered ferocious or fearless are not considered very smart. That is not true for the honey badger, which can easily adapt to its environment, even using tools when necessary.

Watch the BBC video below to see just how clever the honey badger can be.

Stoffle, the Badger that can escape from anywhere! | Honey Badgers of Mayhem - BBC:

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Now that you learned about the honey badger, it is time to check and see what you remember! Whenever you're ready, move on to the Got It? section!

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