The Honey Badger (Cape Ratel – Mellivora capensis capensis) is generally accepted as the most fearless animal in the world. (The Guinness Book of World Records, 2002). In Afrikaans there is a saying “so taai soos ‘n ratel” – as tough as a ratel.
He is a small mammal – an adult only weighs about 12 kg – but he punches way above his weight. There are numerous documented incidents of honey badgers not backing down to and even taking on lion, hyena and other much larger predators.
Their skill in killing large venomous snakes is also legendary. It is a known fact that even when they are bitten by snakes such as cobras, they only pass out for a short time before recovering and often finish eating the snake.
As its name suggests, the honey badger, loves honey and he fearlessly claws open bee hives to reach his objective. He is tenacious even under the most adverse circumstances – like thousands of angry swarming bees!
In this respect he has a wonderful and unique symbiotic relationship with the honeyguide bird who, as the name suggests, noisily directs the honey badger to the bee hives. The honey badger is very well equipped to do this successfully as he can climb trees and sheer koppies, has a tough hide which is impervious to bee stings and his long and sharp claws enable him to open even the most resistant hive.