My friend Fred gave me this advice: If asked in an interview what kind of animal you are, the only proper answer is Honey Badger because they stick their face right into the bee hive and eat the honey, not caring how many times they get stung – they take the punishment and keep coming back for more. Sounded like good advice to me, but first I thought I’d better make sure there actually is such a creature.
Turns out there is and Fred was right, and there’s more to them than tolerating bee stings!
Do honey badgers emasculate their prey?
Honey badgers are reputed to go for the scrotum when attacking large animals. The first published record of this behaviour was a circumstantial account by Stevenson- Hamilton (1947) where a badger reportedly castrated an adult Buffalo. Other animals alleged to have been emasculated by honey badgers include wildebeest, waterbuck, kudu, zebra and man. (I wonder if the man was a lawyer?) This has also been reported by other African tribes, but no direct evidence exists to support this behaviour.
Can honey badgers "fumigate" a beehive with their scent glands?
It is often suggested that badgers release scent from their anal glands to subdue bees or cause them to vacate the hive (Attenborough 1998; Kingdon 1989). The anal secretion is said to be "unendurable" and acts "like an anaesthetic, causing some bees to flee and others to become moribund" (Neal & heeseman 1996). Others suggest that honey badgers empty a hive by repeatedly holding their tail in front of the hive entrance. The disturbed bees attach themselves to the tail, whereupon the badger transports them away and returns to the unguarded honey (Kigatiira 1984). African hunters also say that badgers perform handstands while fumigating the hive (Kingdon 1987). Observations in the southern Kalahari and the Zambezi valley (Mana Pools) do not support any of these stories and on many occasions badgers were very cautious when raiding wild beehives.
Fred, you’re right: You ARE a honey badger!