Honey Badger

Mellivora capensis
Source: Red book, Russia

Honey badger, or ratel, Mellivora capensis is a relatively large mustelid (6–14 kg). Unlike most mustelidae family species, however, it does not show the typical mustelid pattern of intrasexual territoriality, instead males have large home-ranges that overlap extensively with other males and encompass the smaller home-ranges of up to 13 females with a promiscuous mating system. Honey badger is a short stocky animal with short legs and a short bushy tail. Its head and body average 0.8 meters in length with the relatively short tail up to 0.3 meters long. Females are only slightly smaller. Both sexes are black with gray or white areas, such as on tail and crown. 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 ratel can become diurnal or nocturnal depending on which is more efficient. In rural areas, for example, the ratel will sleep during the day and then hunt for food all night. Honey badgers are generalist carnivores with an extremely wide diet. Apart from man, they are the most destructive mammalian predators of honeybees in Africa and they can and do cause substantial losses to both traditional and commercial beekeepers. Badgers eat a host of smaller food items like insect larvae, beetles, scorpions, lizards, rodents and birds. They will catch the larger reptiles like leguaans, crocodiles and pythons and include the highly venomous adders, cobras and black mamba in their diet. For this reason, it is dubbed the most fearless animal in the world.

The gestation period is 6 to 7 months and there are typically 1 to 4 young born in a leaf- or grass-lined nest. Ratel is a non-social species and only the mother rears the young. The ratel may live for up to 26 years in captivity. Honey barger was among the highest consumed wild species of the early Osogbo settlers.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer