Difference Between Badger and Honey Badger

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Difference Between Badger and Honey Badger
American Badger

Difference between badger and honey badger is not something that is easily missed, and although these two species share some common characteristics and their name sake, they each boast their own unique and particular set of individual traits and distinctive appearances. Both the badger and the honey badger hail from the Order Carnivora, both belonging to the same taxonomic family, Mustelidae. The badger family consist of about 25 family members, and include the likes of otters, weasels and wolverines. These carnivorous mammals are scattered far and wide across the globe, inhabiting regions as unforgiving as those offered in the Kalahari Desert of sub-Saharan Africa, to the snowy forests of Russia and the mountains ranges of Japan.

The Badger


Badgers are small mammals that share a range of colors with their various relatives and family members. They have flat, wedge-shaped bodies with broad feet, long sharp claws, and course hair that is either black, brown, gold or white, depending on the specie and region of the world they live in. They have black faces and carry with them the distinctive white badger stripe running down the face. Badgers can grow to anywhere between 20 and 34 inches (51 to 86 cm) when measured form head to tail, and can weigh between as little as 9 to as much as 39 pounds (4 to 18 kg).


Badgers have a rather varied and ranged diet, consuming both plants and animals thereby making them omnivorous, although meat is their preference. Their diet consists of mainly:

  • Earthworms
  • Slugs
  • Grubs
  • Small Rodents
  • Bird Eggs
  • Fruit and Roots
  • Daddy Long Legs Larvae.

In Britain, the badger is the main predator of the hedgehog, adding to their dietary repertoire. They have also been known to make meals of small lambs and domestic poultry, their short powerful legs and claws perfectly designed for digging under fencing. Similarly, their jaw structure is of such a design that they are unable to dislocate their jaws making them very powerful biters.


Badgers generally prefer a dry, open grassland as their choice of places to live, but have, due to their global distribution, adapted to thrive within other habitats and conditions as well. Woodlands, quarries, sea cliffs, mountains, hedgerows and moorlands have all become common place for the badger to make its home. Aptly designed for digging with their short strong legs and wide bodies, badgers live in burrows under the ground called setts, either of their own making or using one that has been abandoned by another animal. Badgers are usually more solitary creatures, they do however group into communities or clans called cetes, varying in size between 2 and 15 badgers.


The badger, due to its vast and ranging family, can be found across most corners of the globe. The American Badger: can found throughout the Great Plain of North America, stretching their territorial reach all the way into the mountainous regions of Mexico and the central western Canadian provinces.

Hog Badgers: primarily occupy the Southeast Asian, Indian and Sumatra regions.

Asian Badger: has a territory that extends from Russia all the way across into China and as far down as Eastern Europe.

European/Eurasian Badger: has a territory that spans from Ireland down to Spain, and across to Eastern Russia, China and into Japan.

Social Behavior

Badgers conduct most of their activities during the night making them more nocturnal animals. Being the clean creatures that they are, a badger’s sett has a special room that is reserved as a bathroom. A clan that shares its territories and setts and can be used for generations by the same cete of badgers, a sett measuring anywhere between 22 and 109 yards (20 to 100 meters). Although the interaction is not always mutual or neutral, the American Badger and the Coyote have been seen hunting together in a cooperative fashion for their mutual benefit.

Difference Between Badger and Honey Badger-1
Honey Badger

The Honey Badger


Honey Badgers can reach a height of around 12 inches (30 cm) at the shoulder, and can weight up to around 26 pounds (12 kg). Their back is covered in a grey to white course fur that contrasts sharply to their black underbelly and legs. Their massive claws, short legs and tiny ears make them digging and burrowing experts, as well as their claws and razor-sharp teeth posing a real threat to attackers when provoked. Their short legs are often used for fast running over short distances, using their acute sense of smell to raid burrows and pick up the scent of small prey items.


Honey Badgers are generally carnivorous, they do however have an extremely wide ranging diet, with more than 60 species of prey having already been recorded in the southern Kalahari alone. They locate their prey via their acute sense of smell, catching the majority of their prey by digging. Their love of honey has further turned the Honey Badger into a skilled and accomplished climber, frequently raiding bird nests and beehives. Some of the Honey Badgers larger prey items include:

  • Rodents and Rabbits
  • Birds
  • Small crocodiles (up to 1 meter)
  • Pythons (up to 3 meters)
  • Leguaans (large African lizard)

Included in the Honey Badgers diet are some of Africa’s most venomous snakes, these include:

  • The Black Mamba
  • The Puffadder
  • Cobra’s


Although the Honey Badger prefers a more arid and dry region to call its home, it has proven itself to be one of the most adaptable creatures on the planet. It is opportunistic and is able to adapt to life in all sorts of habitats, including: grasslands, deserts and mountainous areas. Similarly, the Honey Badger has been aptly equipped for climbing and is a pretty good swimmer. Even though they have a high tolerance to different environments and surroundings, the Honey Badger can be found in most places, excluding those with extreme desert conditions and areas receiving more than 2,000mm of rainfall annually.


Honey Badgers share an extensive range of distribution that extends throughout the majority sub-Saharan Africa. They can be found from as far down as the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, all the way up the African continent to southern Morocco and south western Algeria. They have similarly extended their territories outside of Africa, making their homes throughout Arabia, Iran and western Asia, and extending as far as Turkmenistan and the Indian Peninsula. Their varied and wide distribution gives a good indication as to the adaptability of these fearless carnivores. Their homes ranging from the dry and arid African desert conditions to dense and humid rainforests of Zaire.

Social Behavior

Being solitary carnivores, Honey Badgers only meet up to mate before once again going their separate ways. The males having no role what-so-ever to play in the raising of the young ones. Male Honey Badgers in the Kalahari have extremely large home ranges that are relative to the size of their bodies. Some males encompassing a territory more than 500 square kilometers and overlapping the territories of other males.

Observation have suggested that a dominance hierarchy exists between male Honey Badgers since they frequent the same areas without much conflict. Although the males do not defend their territory, they do guard a particular female once she is in oestrus to prevent her from mating with other males, essentially trapping her inside a burrow for up to three days.

Badger Honey Badger
Appearance Brown or gold coloring with black and grey, with a distinctive white stripe down their face. Their back is covered in grey to white course fur, with the underparts being black. They have no stripe on the face.
Diet Generally omnivorous eating insects, rodents, roots and fruit Generally carnivorous eating mainly snakes, rodents, bird eggs and reptiles
Habitat Varies from open plains to forests and mountainous areas Dry arid desert-like conditions consisting mainly of grasslands
Distribution Have a wide distribution throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada, as well as Europe, Russia, China and India Throughout the African continent, from the Cape of Good Hope at the bottom to Morocco near the northern part of the continent
Social Behavior Gather in clans called cetes, and use their same burrows (setts) for many generations Solitary creatures than only get together for the purposes of mating during the mating season

Main Differences

As you can see there are some rather vast differences between the Badger and the Honey Badger. Although they come from the same family, they have adapted perfectly to their differing environments, and have shown the true range of this amazing mammal. Fierce and fearless, these small in stature creatures are tenacious and relentless, and have earned their reputations over the years. Social and solitary, these fascinating creatures have over the years had their part to play in pop culture, and have given us some of the most entertaining moments on YouTube to date. And even though they may look really cute and cuddly, these little devils are not to be taken too lightly. With those teeth and claws it may just be best to give them a wide birth.

Author: Graeme Kidd

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