What Do Honey Badgers Eat?

Do you wonder what honey badgers really eat? To be honest there is not much this fierce creature wouldn’t go after. Yet they are primarily carnivores some plants are still on their menu. Like their name suggests they, of course, have a special relationship with honey. Learn more about the diet of this wild animal in my article.

What do honey badgers eat?

Honey badgers are a fascinating and intelligent species. In fact, many people wonder if they can make good pets. I must admit that owning one is a tempting thought. But after learning more about their diet and character you will see, this isn’t a good idea at all. 

The Diet Of Honey Badgers

As I mentioned in the introduction, honey badgers are mainly carnivores (just like black panthers), but what do they exactly eat? Well, this is hard to tell. Not because biologists have no clue about their diet, but because the list would be endless.

Honey badgers live in regions of East Africa, Arabia and west Asia and so does their prey. Nearly all animals that share their habitat with the badgers are on the menu. Including larger predators or at least their young.

The animals are opportunistic foragers, that won’t leave a meal out if there is an easy catch. They are also known to steal prey from other predators like lions and hyenas. While smaller ones like jackals or foxes should be fearful of becoming prey on their own.

The list below should give you a few examples of potential prey:

  • Antelopes
  • Ants
  • Amphibians
  • Bugs
  • Foxes
  • Insect larvae
  • Baby cheetahs
  • Beetles
  • Birds
  • Chipmunks
  • Crocodiles
  • Jackals
  • Eagles
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Frogs
  • Gerbils
  • Grasshoppers
  • Ground squirrels
  • Hawks
  • Leguans
  • Lion cubs
  • Lizards
  • Meercats
  • Mice
  • Moles
  • Okapis
  • Polecats
  • Porcupines
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Scorpions
  • Snakes
  • Springhares
  • Termites
  • Turtles
  • Worms

This list is not nearly complete but should give you a feeling for the variety honey badgers love. They feed on many different mammals too and go after cubs of large predators like big cats when the mother is off their guard. They dig after small mammals as well as insects, reptiles and amphibians. The paws are virtually made for this.

Additionally, their climbing skills are also very good. So it’s easy for a honey badger to climb up on a tree to get some eggs, the birds themselves or tree hyraxes.

Although honey badgers are considered carnivores, they also eat berries, fruits, roots, bulbs and vegetables occasionally. Especially when larger dry periods make it hard to find any water to drink, some plants offer welcome refreshment.

When they have the chance, honey badgers are even happy to scavenge on a carcass they find. No matter if the carrion is leftover from other predators or just a weak buffalo that died. Like vultures, they fulfill an important role in nature with that behavior.

Where humans and honey badgers live side by side, they are also a threat to livestock like chickens or ducks. Farmers consider the animals a pest despite their status as endangered.

Do Honey Badgers Eat Honey?

The animals’ name says it all: People bring these creatures and honey in context. But it also leads to some confusion: Do honey badgers really eat honey?

While it can look like a badger is eating honey when they stick their mouth deep into a hive, what they are actually after is larvae. Honey badgers go so crazy about them, that they will tolerate a lot of stitches when they do they raid to get the brood.

Of course, they don’t separate and some honey will make the meal even sweeter. However, they don’t necessarily go after honeybee larvae, the brood of solitary bee species is also an attractive food source.

The larvae of the insects contain a lot of protein as well as other nutrients and are a good source of energy. Honey badgers are willing to travel long distances for their favorite food.

That being said, the animals are not immune to the bee poison. Too many stitches can kill even a honey badger and they will leave the hive when they have enough.

Watch the video below to see, how a honey badger breaks into a beehive.

Do Honey Badgers Eat Snakes?

Yes, honey badgers eat snakes and they are some of their favorite food. The meat is lean and of high quality so badgers are willing to do some effort to get it.

Even highly poisonous snakes like black mambas, king cobras and adders are on the menu. While it’s likely that a bite of a venomous snake hurts, honey badgers are immune to the poison to a certain degree. [1] A bite that would have killed other animals doesn’t mean that much to one of them.

In the video you can see how a honey badgers goes after pythons.

What Do Baby Honey Badgers Eat?

The food of baby honey badgers doesn’t distinguish so much. They are dependent on what the mother brings to the plate. Juvenile animals will soon start to hunt on their own, choosing to go after prey that is slightly smaller.

Soon they will have learned how to hunt and kill, becoming fearful predators like their parents.  

How Often Do Honey Badgers Eat?

Honey badger searching for food

Honey badgers are opportunistic foragers that eat every time they find something that meets their taste. Adults spend the whole day foraging and travel long distances of over 20 miles. 

How often they eat depends hugely on how big the last meal was. An antelope makes them feel longer full than a bug. 

How Do Honey Badgers Hunt?

Honey badgers spend the whole day foraging. They live alone and do hunt with mates. Daytime is where most of their activity takes place. But that can change depending on their habitat. If humans are near they like to forage at night too.

Guided by their sense of smell they find prey reliable. As diggers, they can burrow up to 50 holes during a single day and they regularly travel distances of 20 miles and more. Yet males go further than females.

They are also excellent climbers and aren’t afraid of height. So, eggs and birds are not safe even in treetops.

Their claws and teeth are strong and made for fighting. They won’t refuse to attack large predators to steal their prey or cubs.