Honey Badger / Ratel (Mellivora capensis)

Conservation Status

Least Concern (LC)

Physical Description

With a stocky body and short legs with a thick silver-grey strip running the whole length of their upper body and black underparts this animal is unmistakable. It’s tail is short and bushy, and is often held erect while walking.
Weight 8-14 kg
Size 90-100 cm (including tail).
Lifespan (wild) 7-8 years
Lifespan (captivity) 24-26 years


Social and Reproduction

Generally solitary and nomadic occupying large ranges, moving daily to forage.

Mating System Promiscuity
Breeding interval 14-24 months
Breeding season all year, though more common from September to December
Gestation 50-70 days
Number of offspring 1-2

Habitat and Food


Inhabits a wide variety of habitats including tropical and sub-tropical forests, thorn forests, grasslands and even deserts.


Opportunistic foragers; their diet varies with seasonal changes in prey abundance. Primarily carnivores frequently feeding on eggs, small rodents, snakes, birds and frogs. However they will also eat fruits, roots and bulbs. They get their name from their behaviour of attacking bee-hives to eat the bee larvae and honey inside.


With such a fearsome reputation, not much will readily tangle with a honey badger; lions, spotted hyaenas and leopards tend to kill only older and weaker individuals.

Conservation Challenges

Indirect effects from poisoning aimed at other predators e.g.jackal and caracal.

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Honey Badger / Ratel at Naankuse sites