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What Kills Honey Badgers (Other Than People)?

A stunning photo of a Young hyena in the morning light.

Only a few natural predators go after honey badgers but they’re sometimes hunted by hyenas, lions, and leopards. The honey badger’s aggressive behavior, on the other hand, makes it a difficult meal for predators, and given the honey badger’s small size, predators’ efforts are frequently better spent obtaining an easier, meatier meal.

The honey badger is known for its hardness, aggressiveness, and strength. When escape is difficult, it is known to attack practically any other species viciously and fearlessly, even repelling much larger predators like lions and hyenas. The Guinness Book of World Records deems this animal the most fearless.

Animal bites, bee stings, and porcupine quills rarely penetrate their skin. A honey badger will attack horses, cattle, or Cape buffalos who enter its burrow.

What Kills Honey Badgers?

If you were to ask someone what causes the most honey badger deaths, they would probably assume a big animal such as a lion or leopard. However, many honey badgers have been found stung to death by bees.  You see, honey badgers love to consume honey and bee larvae.

They are willing to invade beehives in the hopes of attaining their favorite meal, even if it means getting stung hundreds of times. Their thick skin and fur aren’t usually able to protect them from these attacks. Honey badgers are some of the most ferocious animals, and this trait can typically lead to their death in the wild.

They are very aggressive and territorial animals, which means they don’t back down without a fight. Honey badgers have been known to go up against larger animals such as leopards, lions, tigers, and hyenas. They have been known to attack these larger animals to try and steal their food, but this tactic doesn’t usually end well for them.

They are much smaller in size than their opponents, which leaves them at a major disadvantage.  Overall, honey badgers generally don’t face many threats in the wild because of their aggressiveness, but this same trait usually leads to their overconfidence when attacking bigger animals. They can live up to seven years in the wild, which is a long time for an animal of this nature. 

Honey Badger Main Predators

Powerful claws of the American badger.

Lion & Leopards Vs Honey Badger

At first appearance, a honey badger vs a lion or leopard could appear to be an unfair matchup. However, the ranges of these two mammal species overlap in Africa, resulting in their interbreeding. However, lions and leopards are formidable predators that can grow to be many times bigger than domestic dogs, and they have a wide variety of weaponry at their disposal.

Similar to a weasel’s cousin, the honey badger has sharp fangs and claws as well as a thick, hard-to-pierce skin that makes it a formidable foe. Both animals can be found in the wild in sub-Saharan Africa, most possibly in the eastern part of the continent near the equator.

Hyena Vs. Honey Badger

While the hyena falls into a similar category as the lion, honey badgers do not back down from them. Honey Badgers have escaped unscathed on many occasions, but other times, once the hyena gets a bite, the badger goes down. You’d better believe that the hyena would still end up badly hurt, making the conquest a total waste.

There is even a popular non-fiction book entitled, “Who Would Win? Hyena Vs. Honey Badger.” At the end of the day, it all boils down to who is more determined during a particular fight, or so it appears.

Honey Badgers Are Tough Opponents

The reason so many animals ignore honey badgers in the wild is that they are very tough to kill. Honey badgers are notoriously difficult to kill due to their strong and supple skin. Their skin is tough to pierce, and because it is loose, they may twist and spin on their attackers while being held. 

On a honey badger, the only safe grasp is on the back of the neck. Most animals can kill their prey with a simple bite, but the honey badger is no simple opponent.  It will fight back rather aggressively, and if you don’t get the neck of the badger, it will most likely escape.

These battles make it almost pointless for predators to try and attack them. A major reason predators tend to stay away from honey badgers is the damage they unleash during the conflict. They have long claws and sharp teeth which can be used to their advantage during a fight. 

If an animal holds the honey badger in its mouth, it will simply tussle around while clawing at them. This can lead to the predator being wounded. 

Honey Badgers Vs. Venom

Are honey badgers immune to venom? Yes and No! From a very young age, honey badgers are exposed to small doses of venom and, over time, their tolerance is increased. 

They are exposed to scorpions at a younger age, and as they get older they can begin to consume more venomous snakes such as cobras.  Snakes don’t have enough biting force to pierce the skin of honey badgers with their initial bite, so the honey badger generally has enough time to turn and counter-attack. At an older age, it requires a tremendous amount of venom to kill a honey badger, but it isn’t impossible.

For decades, researchers have tried to find the reasoning for honey badgers’ high tolerances for venom, but their venom resistance has a biochemical foundation that is unknown.

Honey Badgers Defense

A defensive pose of a badger near its burrow in the forest.

To defend itself, the honey badger possesses a secret weapon. Two anal glands are hidden at the base of its tail and tail and a foul-smelling substance that can be noticed from 130 feet away. Even large predators are taking risks by attempting to kill a honey badger. 

That’s because it is a small animal with a large disposition. The honey badger has tough, thick skin over its shoulders, which is possibly an adaptation to resist bee stings. It allows the animal to swivel around and attack its attacker when held in this area.

It has razor-sharp canines, a strong jaw, and a tenacious grip. Honey badgers have been observed to attack the crotch area of larger animals that might pose a threat. Perhaps, the honey badger’s most important defense is its fearlessness.

Predators like going for prey that don’t put up much of a fight and that are easy to kill. A honey badger is neither. It is small in size but puts up the fight of an animal far larger.

This typically forces predators to stay away and go on to their next prey. 

Honey Badgers habitat

Badgers are classed as nocturnal because they sleep during the day and are most active at night. Badgers’ muscular limbs and sharp claws make for easier foraging and burrowing. They reside in tunnels and caverns dug by themselves, with grass and leaves as bedding.

Their home is a badger’s sett. Because badgers are tidy creatures, setts feature a separate bathroom chamber, according to the Somerset Wildlife Trust. A clan, also known as a creative, is a family of badgers who live together.

A clan’s territory and settlements are frequently shared. Setts can be hundreds of years old, and badgers have used them for generations. A single sett can be anywhere between 22 and 109 yards long, according to the Somerset Wildlife Trust.

What do Honey Badgers eat?

A portrait of a Honey badger taking his food in the National Park.

Skunks, otters, ferrets, and other badgers are related to honey badgers, sometimes known as ratels. The larvae of honeybees are a favorite of these ravenous omnivores, thus their name. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects, along with fruits, berries, bulbs, and roots, are all eaten by them.

They mostly go hunting for their meals, but when the opportunity arises, they’ll gladly take from other carnivores or scavenge the kills of larger animals. The badger can easily rip the flesh off bone thanks to its brawny build, lengthy foreclaws, and sharp teeth, which are all prominent.