Honey Badger Facts

African Safari Fun Facts Sibuya Game Reserve

Honey badgers or ratel are jet black except for the gray mantle, separated by a white stripe, extending from the crown to the base of the tail. The colour of the mantle and stripe may vary from one individual to another and often becomes darker with age. The hair is coarse and is longer on the hind legs and tail. The badgers striking colouration makes them easily recognizable and they could only be confused with the much smaller Striped polecat (Ictonyx striatus) and Striped weasel (Poecilogale albinucha) both of which weigh less than a kilogram. Honey badgers have a distinctive jog-trot and stand approximately 30 cm high. Males may be twice the size of females Honey badgers are well adapted to their digging lifestyle and have a powerful and stocky build, with no external ears, a broad muscular back, bowlegged front legs and formidable fore claws that may reach 40mm in length.

The honey badger has an extensive historical range which extends through most of sub-Saharan Africa from the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, to southern Morocco and south western Algeria, and outside of Africa through Arabia, Iran and western Asia to Turkmenistan and the Indian peninsula (Skinner & Smithers, 1990; Harrison & Bates, 1991; F. Cuzin, pers. comm.). Historically it is thought to be absent from the driest centre of the Sahara desert, the Mediterranean coast as far as the Nile Valley, and the Free State Province of South Africa (Lynch, 1983; Kingdon, 1989; Skinner & Smithers, 1990; Begg, 2001a). It lives in a wide variety of habitats from the dense rain forests of Zaire to the arid deserts on the outskirts of the Sahara and pro-Namib, from sea level to the afro-alpine steppes in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia (> 4000 m; Sillero-Zubiri, 1996).

In India it is mostly found in the semi arid areas of Gujarat, Rajasthan, madhya pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, with occasional sightings from the moist areas such as Orissa, West Bengal and as far as Assam. South wards it has also been reported from Tamil Nadu.