Honey Badger vs Lion: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: March 4, 2023
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A honey badger and a lion might seem like an unfair fight at first glance. ]However, these two mammals both share a range in Africa, one that has brought them into contact with one another.

On one hand, the lion is a fierce predator that is several times larger than the biggest domesticated dog, and it has many weapons in its arsenal. On the other hand, the honey badger is a relative of the weasel, but it’s larger than its cousin and outfitted with powerful teeth, claws, and a thick skin that is hard to penetrate.

These two creatures would most likely meet each other somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, probably in the eastern portion of the continent where both live in the wild. Let’s closely examine the features of these creatures and see which would emerge victorious from a fight.

Comparing a Honey Badger and Lion

Honey badger vs lion
A honey badger is smaller, lighter, and slower than a lion, but they’re both predators
Honey BadgerLion
SizeWeight: 11lbs to 40lbs
Length: 1.5ft – 2.5ft
Weight: 264lbs – 550lbs
Length: 4.7ft – 8.2ft
Speed and Movement Type– 19 mph  
– Gallops to run
-35 mph
-Sprints to enemies with a galloping gait
Bite Power and Teeth– Bite power not measured
– Their teeth are sharp enough and their jaws powerful enough to bite through tortoise shells.
-650 PSI bite power
-30 teeth including up to four, 4-inch canines
SensesGreat sense of smell
– Good sense of hearing
– Poor eyesight like most other Mustelids
-Amazing sense of sight, especially night vision.
-Good sense of smell capable of smelling other lions’ markings. -Great hearing allows them to hear prey miles away.
DefensesExceptionally thick skin that resists bites, stabs, stings, and blows
– Overpowering musk that can make predators flee 
– Large size
– Lives in a pack
Offensive Capabilities– Sharp claws 
– Powerful, well-aimed bites
– Can turn the tables on enemies in close quarters
-Paw strikes
Predatory Behavior– Directly chases and kills creatures
– Digs prey out of burrows  
-Primarily stalks and pounces on the opponent
-Uses groups to take down prey

The Key Factors in a Fight Between a Honey Badger and Lion

How Long Do Lions Live

The physical characteristics and predatory abilities determine who wins this fight.

©Stephanie Periquet/Shutterstock.com

Determining the victor of a honey badger vs lion fight requires examining several elements. However, only a few of these mammals’ characteristics would influence the outcome of a fight between them.

Based on what we know about the honey badger and the lion, this fight would ultimately boil down to specific physical features and combat skills. By looking at elements like size, speed, predatory behaviors, and others, we’ll gain the insight needed to determine who would win in a battle between them.

Physical Features

Lions are larger, heavier, and quicker, but honey badgers are more outright aggressive to others.

©Dirk Theron/Shutterstock.com

Size matters when two creatures are fighting for their lives, and so does speed and the means that animals use to fight. We’re going to consider which creature has more advantages from a physical standpoint.

Honey Badger vs Lion: Size

The larger animal usually has an advantage over the small one. In this case, the lion is much larger than the honey badger. A lion can be up to 8 feet long and weigh 500 pounds, but a honey badger weighs a measly 40 pounds, is only 2.5 feet long, and is much shorter.

The lion has a major advantage in terms of size alone.

Honey Badger vs Lion: Speed and Movement

The honey badger is very fast for its size, capable of running 19 mph when it needs to chase something down. They use a galloping motion to run. Similarly, the lion uses a gallop to run at full speed, but it clocks in at 35 mph. That means the lion decides who, if anyone, gets to run away from the fight.

The lion has the advantage in terms of speed.

Honey Badger vs Lion: Bite Power and Teeth

Both the honey badger and lion use their bites to harm prey, but one of them is stronger. Sure, the honey badger has sharp, powerful teeth that can puncture and break tortoise shells. That is a very strong but small bite compared with the lion.

A lion has 4-inch-long fangs, 30 teeth in total, and 650 PSI of bite force. That might not be the strongest, but it’s more than enough force to crush the bones of large prey.

Once again, the lion has the advantage in terms of bite power and teeth.  

Honey Badger vs Lion: Senses

The honey badger does not have the best physical senses. It doesn’t see that well like other Mustelids. It does have a wonderful sense of smell and good hearing, but a busy honey badger can be ambushed.

Lions have a fantastic sense of sight that is great at night. Their sense of smell is good enough to smell the markings left behind by other creatures, and they can hear some prey from miles away. That’s quite a set of senses they have.

It’s clear that the lion wins in terms of senses.

Honey Badger vs Lion: Physical Defenses

The lion is an apex predator that is protected by its size and the fact that it lives in a pack called a pride. Its physical defenses include a robust set of senses that make it hard to ambush them.

Honey badgers have strong defenses in the form of their thick skin that is hard to cut, bite, or sting. They can twist around in their loose skin and attack at prey that are holding them. They can also climb and burrow well.

The honey badger finally gets an advantage in terms of defense.

Combat Skills

What do lions eat - lion vs hyena

Lions fight against other predators all the time and often win

©Mark Sheridan-Johnson/Shutterstock.com

Now that we know who has the physical advantages, it’s time to look at how well they pan out in a fight. Consider the ways that honey badgers and lions would fight an enemy.  

Honey Badger vs Lion: Offensive Capabilities

A lion has several tools at its disposal. Its massive size and speed mean it can run and ram into enemies while inflicting a powerful bite. Meanwhile, they can use their sharp claws on all four paws to inflict more damage to the enemy.

Honey badgers have sharp claws, but they prefer to use their teeth when fighting. A quick bite to the right spot can spell a quick end to a fight.

In this case, lions have the advantage in offensive capabilities.  

Honey Badger vs Lion: Predatory Behaviors

Lions have interesting predatory behaviors, either hunting in a pack to bring down large prey or using stealth to attack their enemy when the conditions are favorable to them. Once they pounce on an enemy, the fight is on, and they rarely lose.

Honey badgers pursue their prey directly, either running after them or going so far as to dig them out of their burrows to feed on them.

A stealthy lion is a terrifying thing, and it gets the advantage for its hunting methods.

What Are Key Differences Between Honey Badger and Lion?

The key differences between a lion and honey badger is their size, speed, and intelligence.

©Justin Tyler Barlow/Shutterstock.com

Lions are much larger, faster, and intelligent than honey badgers. The lion is from the genus Panthera while the Honey Badger is from the genus Mellivora. They’re very different creatures even though they are both mammals and predators that live in Africa.  

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

animals that eat their young: lion

A lion would kill a honey badger in a fight.


In a honey badger vs lion fight, the lion would win. In many cases, the fight between two animals is decided by their size and ability to kill another creature. The lion is fantastic in both respects, completely able to overwhelm a honey badger with its amazing size and power.

Some people have speculated that a honey badger’s skin could stop a fatal blow from occurring against large predators. Even if the skin holds up, the tissue and bone below will not. A lion could easily crack the honey badger’s bones with a bite.

The fight could play out in a few ways. First, the lion could smell a honey badger coming, and they probably will since the latter has a musk it sprays. The lion would pounce, overwhelm the badger, and instantly score a killing blow by breaking its back or puncturing its skull.

If the lion and honey badger just happened to run across one another, the honey badger would be agile enough to dance around a bit, taking swipes at the lion, or perhaps land a bite or two. However, the lion has more tools than just its bite. A few powerful slashes with claws or blunt force from their paws would stagger the honey badger before the fatal bite comes.

Even if the honey badger fought well, it doesn’t have the power to kill a grown lion. A honey badger would be a scar and an unpleasant memory for a lion, but maybe not its easiest kill.

What Animals Can Take Down a Lion?

A Nile Crocodile seen on a safari in South Africa

The Nile


‘s aggression, powerful jaws, and attack speed make it a dangerous foe for lions

©Rudi Hulshof/Shutterstock.com

Nile Crocodile: What it lacks in size compared to its larger saltwater cousin, it makes up for in aggression. Add to that an ability to reach 20 feet in length, to weigh more than double a lion’s weight, and a bite force of 3,000 psi, and things start to look very worrisome for the top feline, indeed. There’s also that explosive attack speed with which it makes its presence known to its unsuspecting victim leaving it little opportunity to bound to safety. Lions are rightfully wary of these crocs for a reason. Especially since a large one could swiftly overpower them and drag them to the murky river depths far below.

Buffalo calf

Cape buffaloes are renowned for their immense power, cunning, and unpredictable nature

©Jurgens Potgieter/Shutterstock.com

Cape Buffalo: This heavy-duty herbivore capable of weighing almost four times a lion at its heaviest, i.e., 1,918 lbs, also has a reputation for being something of a grouch. Wildlife experts have also testified as to its cunning and unpredictable nature, and ability to keep a grudge. Unsurprisingly, lions are often on the receiving end of its ire. The bovine, which is considered to be four times more powerful than an ox, has been known to turn the tables in spectacular fashion and send its would-be predator airborne with terrible wounds from those sturdy, sharp-pointed horns.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/3dan3

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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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