Scientific Name: Mellivora capensis
The Honey Badger or Ratel can we found right here in Hoedspruit and is one of our mascots. Yet, it is a rare sight to see them in the wild. Next, to the wolverine, the honey badger has the least specialised diet of the weasel family. When hunting, they trot with their fore toes turned in. Honey Badgers hunt at any time of day but are usually nocturnal in places with a high human population.
Honey Badgers eat anything. Seriously, ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. They are omnivores with a powerful jaw that causes destruction wherever they go. They will eat reptiles, like frogs and lizards, and small animals, like rodents and birds. The Badger caches many of its prey by digging them out of their burrows. With that said, they are most known for eating and killing venomous snakes, like the Cape cobra. Their diet also consists of tortoises by chomping open their shells and can even kill lions or chase away the scary cats if necessary. On the healthier side, they also eat vegetables, plants, eggs, fruit, insects, larva, and roots. When seeking vegetable food, they lift stones or tear bark from trees.
Most of the Honey Badger’s breeding habits are still a mystery to us. We do know that they are mostly solitary unless it is during the May breeding season. When mating, males emit loud grunting sounds. The gestation period lasts 6 months and two cubs are usually born. Cubs are born blind. Cubs vocalise by means of plaintive whines.
Honey Badgers live alone in self-dug holes or they steal already dug burrows from other animals like warthogs and termites. Their burrows are usually 1-3 meters long and consist of one passage and a nesting area. The nesting area does not contain bedding.
Honey badgers are one of a few species known to use tools. One of many examples is a video made at the Moholoholo rehab centre in South Africa showed a pair of honey badgers using sticks, a rake, heaps of mud and stones to escape from their walled pit.
The Honey Badger has earned its name for its love of honey and searches for beehives. Many say that the Honey Badger and Honeyguide birds are partners in crime. It is said that the Honeyguide shows the Badger where the hives are and in return, the Bird eats the Badger’s leftovers. After 200 years of research, this friendship has never been seen and Honey Badgers don’t even react to the bird’s song. Another myth is that Honey Badgers dig up human corpses in India…. that is a bit bizarre.
Written By Tersha van Staden