Honey Badger vs. Hyena: Who Will Win in a Fight?

Honey Badger (Mellivora Capensis) - toughest animal for protecting itself against large predators
Ewan Chesser/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kyle Glatz

Published: December 4, 2023

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Hyenas have a poor reputation as tricky scavengers even though they are highly effective hunters. Honey badgers have a reputation for being nigh indestructible even though they’re smaller than many types of dogs. These animals share a range with each other, and they fight from time to time. Which one of these animals survives in a honey badger vs. hyena fight? Discover whether the honey badger can solidify its legendary status or if the hyena is a better fighter than people give it credit for being.

Comparing a Honey Badger and a Hyena

honey badger vs. hyena
Honey BadgerHyena
SizeWeight: from 11 to 40 pounds
Length: 1.5 to 2.5 feet long
Weight: 90 to 190 pounds
Height: 2 to 3 feet
Length: 3 to 5 feet long
Speed– From 15 to 20 mph– 35 to 40 mph
Defenses– May emit a terrible-smelling scent from their anal glands to ward off attackers
– Thick, elastic skin that protects them from bee stings, bites, and more
– Their skin is loose enough on their body that they can wriggle free when bitten and turn the tables on enemies
– Can climb trees to escape trouble
– Stays in large groups to ward off danger and face down larger predators
– Has enough speed to get away from trouble
Offensive Capabilities– Have a bite force and jaws strong enough to break through a tortoise shell
– Teeth measuring 1.5 inches long that they use to puncture prey’s flesh
– 1.5-inch-long claws used for digging help them dig into burrows and tear open beehives
– Typically attacks in groups to overwhelm their prey and quickly eat it
– Has a bite force of 1,100 psi along with conical teeth that help them break bones      
Predatory Behavior– Pursuit predators that are not afraid to dig prey out of their burrows– Cursorial predator that hunts with other members of its group
– They’ll run after prey, attacking the flanks and other weak parts, eventually bringing the prey down
– Steals other animals’ meals and scavenges when possible

What Are 2 Key Differences Between a Honey Badger and a Hyena?

Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) lie on the ground, taken in South Africa

Hyenas have powerful bites and strong teeth.

The major differences between a honey badger and a hyena lie in their size and predatory behavior. The hyena is larger than the honey badger, weighing between 90 and 190 pounds and standing 3 feet tall compared to the honey badger, an animal that weighs up to 40 pounds and measures about 2.5 feet long.

Hyenas are effective hunters that use cursorial predation to hunt prey, often in packs. Meanwhile, honey badgers hunt alone for the most part, and they use pursuit predation to chase down their prey, even going so far as to dig them out of their homes in the ground.

These differences will have an impact on the battle, but they are not the only elements that matter in this fight.

What Are the Key Factors in a Fight Between a Honey Badger and a Hyena?

Honey badger and lion

Honey badgers are bold creatures, but they are limited by their size.

Usually, fights in the wild come down to five different factors. These factors are size, speed, defenses, fighting abilities, and predation methods. In this battle, the same factors apply. The following section will directly compare the combatants in each of these elements and determine the creature that has the advantage. Then, we’ll use the cumulative information gleaned from the comparisons to name a winner of this bout.

Honey Badger vs. Hyena: Size

Hyenas are larger than honey badgers. The average honey badger only weighs between 11 and 40 pounds and measures about 1.5 to 2.5 feet long. However, hyenas, depending on the different species, can weigh between 90 and 190 pounds, stand 2 to 3 feet tall, and grow from 3 to 5 feet long.

The hyena has the size advantage in this fight.  

Honey Badger vs. Hyena: Speed

The average hyena can run at maximum speeds of 35 to 40 miles per hour. However, honey badgers can only reach speeds of 15 to 20 miles per hour while running at full speed. They are very agile animals, though.  

The hyena has a speed advantage in this fight.  

Honey Badger vs. Hyena: Defenses

In the wild, hyenas benefit from living in large groups that help them compete with other large predators in their range, like lions. In this fight, though, they’re all alone. So, they will have to rely on their speed and size to keep them safe.

Honey badgers almost seem like they’re built for getting into scrappy fights. They have thick elastic skin that allows them to resist bee stings and some punctures. They’re also very good at digging burrows and climbing trees, affording them some additional protection. Lastly, they can emit a terrible-smelling odor from their anal glands to send other predators scurrying away.  

The honey badger has a defensive advantage in this fight.

Honey Badger vs. Hyena: Fighting Capabilities

Hyenas are ruthless fighters that have to compete with several big cats in their range, such as leopards, cheetahs, and lions. They use their incredibly powerful bite to kill their prey. Hyenas have cone-shaped teeth and a bite force of 1,100 psi, allowing them to bite down hard enough to keep prey from fleeing while also cracking bones and shearing flesh.

Honey badgers also have a very strong bite for their size. Their teeth and jaws are strong enough to puncture tortoise shells. Also, they have 1.5-inch claws that they can use for digging or tearing into beehives or burrows.

Hyenas have the advantage in terms of fighting abilities.

Honey Badger vs. Hyena: Predation Method

Hyenas are cursorial predators that hunt with other members of their species. They’ll usually attack their prey from several directions while chasing them, eventually bringing down the prey with deadly bites while minimizing their vulnerability as an individual. Also, hyenas are not shy about stealing other animals’ kills, especially when they have the numbers advantage to drive off big cats.

Honey badgers are pursuit predators that use their senses to find prey and then simply hunt them down. They’re not afraid to dig into the earth to find their prey, either.

Hyenas have a predatory advantage in this fight.

Who Would Win in a Fight Between a Honey Badger and a Hyena?

Hyena Teeth- Brown Hyena Eating

The hyena would make a quick meal of the honey badger.

A hyena would win in a fight against a honey badger. Although honey badgers are tenacious and powerful for their size, they don’t have enough power to win a fight against a hyena. Their jaws and teeth could not do immediate, fatal damage to a hyena.

Meanwhile, a hyena’s immense biting power would overwhelm the honey badger’s primary defense, its thick skin. The honey badger would find itself clamped down upon by an incredibly strong bite. Even if it survived the bite, it would be severely injured. Sure, the honey badger could bite the hyena back if it lived long enough. Their bite is not going to kill a hyena faster than the hyena’s bite is going to kill them.

The only way the honey badger survives is by running away, but the hyena is faster. Perhaps the honey badger could make it up into a tree. The bottom line is that there is a much better chance that the hyena has a honey badger for lunch than the other way around.  

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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