What's On the Menu?

With the honey badger being the fearsome and effective predator that it is, much can be said on the subject of its diet. It is a carnivore, and has a unique and widely varied diet As with most animals, the diet depends on a number of factors, including temperature and rainfall. As one might assume, during periods when life is thriving and abundant, the honey badger’s diet will notThe Honey Badger snacking on a mouse; Used with permission by Keith and Colleen Begg be as diverse. This is because during the harsher times, the honey badger will have to branch out and find different and more diverse sources in order to eat the same amount (Begg et al. 2003).

What the honey badger eats depends on the sex of the animal in question. It has been noted that honey badgers exhibit sexual dimorphism not only in their physical size, but in their eating habits as well (Begg et al. 2003). In general, male honey badgers were observed to go for larger prey than their female counterparts (Begg et al. 2003). Two main hypotheses have been proposed in an attempt to explain this attribute of sexual dimorphism. The first states that this sexual dimorphism occurs to reduce the overlap in the diets of males and females. That is so that males do not have to take food from females, and females aren’t competing with the larger and stronger males for the same food (Begg et al. 2003). The other hypothesis claims that females are smaller because they then require less energy for life overall, letting them devote more energy to reproduction and caring for their young.

The Honey Badger entering a bee hive for a snack; Used with permission by Keith and Colleen BeggWhen honey badgers were studied in the Kalahari, they were reported eating over sixty different species of prey (Begg et al. 2003)! Some of the more interesting species include highly venomous snakes such as adders, cobras, and black mambas. They were also seen catching large reptiles such as leguaans and even a meter-long crocodile (Begg 2012). As far as mammals go, honey badgers have been seen hunting wild cats, jackals, and foxes, among other mammals (Begg 2012). Not every animal the honey badger eats is a dangerous, large animal however. A significant portion of the honey badger’s diet is smaller animals including insects and larvae. In fact, the honey badger will relentlessly hunt down bee hives in order to get at the honey and more importantly the honey bee larva inside (Begg 2012).


Nutrition plays a key role in the survival and development of the honey badger.  To learn how their reproductive tendencies relates to this species' success, take a look at the Reproduction page!