Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Zander from Crookston, MN. Zander Wonders, “How come honey badgers are immune to the poison of deadly snakes like the king cobra or the black mamba or other poisonous snakes and animals?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Zander!

When you think about the fiercest animals on Earth, what do you think of? Lions? Tigers? Bears? Oh my! You probably don’t think about the honey badger, do you?

The honey badger sounds — and looks — kind of sweet, doesn’t it? Based upon name alone, the honey badger seems like it might be a cross between a loveable weasel and Winnie the Pooh. Don’t let it fool you! You wouldn’t want to meet a honey badger in a dark alley.

The honey badger — also known by its Afrikaans name: ratel — is a member of the weasel family. It’s related to several other animals, including skunks, otters, ferrets and other types of badgers. Honey badgers look much more like weasels than other types of badgers.

It gets its English name — honey badger — from the fact that it appears to love honey. Honey badgers will bravely stick their hands and head right into the midst of a buzzing beehive. What they’re really looking for, though, are the bee larvae hidden in the honey.

Wild honey badgers live in Africa, Southwest Asia, and India. Fully grown, they can weigh up to 30 pounds. They are extremely tough animals that can survive in harsh conditions

So what makes honey badgers so tough? First, they have glands similar to skunks. These allow them to keep predators away with a “stink bomb.” They don’t spray like skunks, but potential predators get the message loud and clear.

Honey badgers are also quite mean. They pick fights with all sorts of animals you’d never believe they could conquer…but they do! From venomous snakes to larger mammals, honey badgers can be fearsome foes.

Honey badgers have tough, thick, loose skin. That’s why they can poke their heads right into beehives—bee stings don’t phase them! When grabbed by the neck by a predator, the honey badger can also twist around and bite back. With their sharp teeth and claws, honey badgers don’t lose many fights.

Although honey badgers will eat almost anything, one of their favorite foods is snake. That’s right…even venomous snakes like the puff adder! Honey badgers have developed a resistance to some of the most lethal snake venoms in the world. This allows them to snack on some of the most dangerous snakes on Earth!

Standards: NGSS.LS1.A, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCAR.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day might have you searching for Bigfoot!