Fact File

Honey badgers or ratel are jet black except for the gray mantle, separated by a white stripe, extending from the crown to the base of the tail. The colour of the mantle and stripe may vary from one individual to another and often becomes darker with age. The hair is coarse and is longer on the hind legs and tail. The badgers striking colouration makes them easily recognizable and they could only be confused with the much smaller Striped polecat (Ictonyx striatus) and Striped weasel (Poecilogale albinucha) both of which weigh less than a kilogram. Honey badgers have a distinctive jog-trot and stand approximately 30 cm high. Males may be twice the size of females 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.

Scientific name: Mellivora capensis (Schreber, 1776)
Common names: Honey badger, ratel, honey ratel.
Taxonomy As many as 10 subspecies suggested, currently being revised.
Size: total length:780 to 1020mmm
head:25 to 155 mm
body:500 to 640 mm
tail:160 to 230mm
shoulder height:230 to 300 mm
neck circumference:225 to 355 mm
Weight: male: 9.0 to 14.0 kg
female:5.5 to 10.0 kg
Diet Generalist carnivore
General distribution The greater part of sub-Saharan Africa, through the Middle East to southern Russia, and eastwards as far as India and Nepal.
Habitat: Wide tolerance, from semi-desert to rainforest.
Altitude: Sea level to 4,050 meters.
Longevity: Estimated 5 to 8 years in wild, 24 years in captivity.
Social system Solitary, polygynous, males may form small groups.
Breeding season None, breed throughout year.
Gestation: 6 - 8 weeks typical (may exhibit delayed implantation in some areas). More data needed
Litter size: 1 rarely 2 cubs
Conservation status Unprotected on International Red Data List,   Near Threatened in South Africa. ,  Near Threatened in Morocco, Endangered in Saudi Arabia, protected in India. CITES: Appendix III (Botswana & Ghana)
Threats Directly persecuted by bee- keepers, poultry and sheep farmers. Indirect persecution through indiscriminate poisoning and trapping for jackal and caracal. Trade for traditional medicine. Bushmeat in Zambia.
Predators Lion,leopard and man.