They don’t care about anybody or anything, and they get especially ferocious when they’re hungry. Exactly. Big mood.

Quick Notes

  • Honey badgers are resistant to venom and can spin their bodies 360 degrees without actually turning around.

  • They’re more closely related to the weasel than the European badger, despite their name.

  • Their mothers expose them to venom from an early age to build immunity, and you thought dance moms were bad.

The words ‘honey’ and ‘badger’ may be two of the cutest words in the English language. You think ‘honey,’ and you think of springtime, honey bees, maybe even Winnie the Pooh. You think of ‘badger,’ and it reminds you of the little friendly-faced, English woodland creature.

However, pair the words together, and you have the furthest thing from Winnie the Pooh you can imagine. The honey badger is no friend of Christopher Robin’s. In fact, they’re more likely to be friends with the Heffalumps. What I’m trying to tell you is: they’re ferocious, and they don’t care what you think about it.

Native to South Africa, they’re famous in America for the viral YouTube clips of them tearing into other creatures. They are genuinely wild, to the point that the Guinness book of world records named them the world’s most fearless animal. Do you know what kind of crazy stuff you have to do to be called the world’s most fearless animal? No, you don’t, because you’re not a honey badger.

Though they be but little, they be fierce

Part of the reason they have the reputation they do is because of how near-indestructible they seem to be despite being so small. They only stand at eleven inches, and so often can be killed by bigger predators, but what earns them their title is their willingness to put up a fight.

They are covered in thick, loose skin. This might make the honey badger sound a little funny, but in actuality, this makes them terrifying. It enables them to spin almost 360 degrees around on themselves without actually turning around, meaning if something bites them from behind, they can bite right back with no trouble at all. They’re like the exorcists of the animal kingdom.

Pexels

Despite their name, their evolutionary siblings are far closer to the weasel than any friendly-face European badger. Their environment is wildly different too. Instead of woodland, the honey badger is most often found in the deserts of Africa and India. For this reason, they are well acquainted with their venomous neighbors.

Creatures like scorpions, pythons, and adders share the same habitat as the honey badger, so from a very young age, their parents have to introduce them to the potential dangers. It’s pretty hard to imagine, but honey badger mothers actually expose their offspring to scorpion venom shortly after they’re born to build their immunity. Talk about a rough first day at school.

Not immune, just well adjusted

It’s a common misconception that honey badgers are entirely immune to venom, but this is not the case. It’d probably be more believable if that were true, but instead, it’s just a case of their pushy parents throwing them into scorpion nests before they’re even old enough to spin their bodies 360 degrees. It’s a rough gig being a honey badger, but then who are we to criticize badger parenting?

honey badger mothers actually expose their offspring to scorpion venom shortly after they’re born to build their immunity

It’s no surprise that they’re raised this way, given that an adult honey badger will consume and live off of whatever they can find without any limits. They will eat mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, larvae, plants, fruit, eggs, and roots. There’s no stopping them, so if they do come across any venom, it’s probably just a pleasant condiment to them.

A deeper dive – Related reading on the 101

Now for a palette cleanser from all that ferocious animal talk, here are some of the cutest dogs for the adorable older person in your life.

It isn’t just honey badgers that can put up a mean fight in the natural world. Even plants can give you a hard time if you aren’t careful.

The honey badger didn’t make this list, but it would be in ferocious company if it had.