Honey Badger

Introduction: The honey badger or 'ratel' is a badger-like animal and is so called because it often feeds on honey. They are about the same size as a European badger or a medium-sized dog. They have long claws and their thick, loose skin protects them from stings or bites. Honey badgers can be very ferocious and have been known to attack creatures as large as buffalo! Normally active between dusk and dawn, these nocturnal critters also have special glands that give off a foul-smelling liquid that discourages their enemies.

Honey badgers live in holes in the ground, among rocks, or in hollow logs, stumps or trees. They may travel alone or in pairs. These seemingly eternally hungry creatures often look for honey in Namibia with the help of the lesser honeyguide (one of four types of honeyguide that can be found in southern Africa). This relationship is called mutual symbiosis, which means living together where both parties benefit. (This liaison also occurs when an alga and a fungus grow together to form a lichen.)

The lesser honeyguide uses a regular call-site from where it calls 'klew, klew, klew...' in series of 30-40 calls at a time and leads the honey badger to a beehive. The badger then breaks open the hive with its claws, and both animals feed. Quite a sight.

Distribution: The honey badger is found almost everywhere in Namibia, except in the Namib Desert. There are frequent sightings of honey badgers in the Halali Rest Camp in Etosha National Park, where they have been known to steal food from unsuspecting tourists.

Diet: They feed chiefly on honey, insects, small mammals, lizards and both poisonous and non-poisonous snakes. They also eat plants, roots and fruit and if all else fails, rubbish bins!

Colouring: The black bottom half of the badger is separated from the grey top half by a white stripe.

Breeding: A single cub is usually born after a gestation period of 6 months. The female will sometimes produce up to 2 cubs per litter.

Size: The honey badger can weigh up to 12kg. Their shoulder height is 26cm and they can be nearly 1m from head to tail.

Mammals of Namibia Wildlife of Namibia

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