The honey badger is characterised by its black pelt and broad streak of grey hair running from its head down to its tail. Their short, stout legs and low-lying bodies are perfectly designed for digging into the dry bushveld ground.
From the shoulder, the honey badger stands at a height of 250 mm high and they weigh around 12 kgs. Although they are mainly terrestrial, they will climb trees to reach beehives. They move in a jog-trotting motion and are known to relentlessly track their prey until it has been run to the ground.
The honey badger is known for being brave and fierce, displayed in its will to fight just about any animal.
The first game warden of the Kruger Park, James Stevenson-Hamilton, recorded two separate incidents where he witnessed honey badgers attacking the scrotums of a wildebeest and waterbuck. Honey badgers are known as foragers, as they keep their heads to the ground sniffing out the trails of their prey.
They are also solitary hunters. Honey badgers in the southern Kalahari change from being nocturnal in summer to diurnal in winter. However, where there is a human presence, the honey badgers will become mainly nocturnal.
The honey badger has a high tolerance and immunity to snake venom, scorpion and bee stings. After being bitten by the highly cytotoxic puff adder snake, the honey badger expressed pain but showed a full recovery after five hours.
The honey badger’s strong immunity against venom is most likely caused by the numerous bites received while preying on poisonous snakes from South Africa. Honey badger cubs are not allowed to catch any poisonous snakes until they have learnt the correct skills and coordination from their mother.
There have been a few cases where honey badgers have been stung to death by bees in commercial apiaries.