Houdini Honey Badgers Can Escape From Anywhere


Stephen Luntz

Stephen has a science degree with a major in physics, an arts degree with majors in English Literature and History and Philosophy of Science and a Graduate Diploma in Science Communication.

Freelance Writer

722 Houdini Honey Badgers Can Escape From Anywhere
BBC2. The escape techniques of this honey badger have to be seen to be believed
So half the Internet has seen the video about what total badasses honey badgers are (reminder at bottom for those who want a second look). But they don't just have attitude. As this clip from a BBC documentary reveals, they're also really smart. We know a lot of people who wouldn't be able to work out how to get out of an enclosure like this.


It is amazing to think that barely 50 years ago Jane Goodall was mocked for producing evidence that chimpanzees use tools. One can only imagine the response if she had made the same claims about honey badgers, whose relationship to us is many times more distant.

The games between Stoffel and Brian may be all in good fun – one commentator on Youtube suggests Stoffel likes escaping more than being free, and that may actually be right. However, things have got much more serious in the Western Cape where honey badgers (also known as ratels) have lived up to their name and started raiding apiarists' hives. Half the beekeepers in the linked study admitted to having killed honey badgers (Mellivora capensis) in retribution, even though they are a protected species in South Africa.


In other regions similar conflicts have emerged over ratels attacking chickens. Despite a skin reportedly almost impervious to spears and arrows honey badgers do usually come out on the losing side of such conflicts, although they are not globally considered endangered.

For a refresh on the video that brought the honey badger to global fame see here:

After all this two questions occur to us: How on Earth did Brian and his team manage to recapture Stoffel all those times? And with this combination of toughness, attitude and brains why aren't honey badgers running the planet?