Watch This Unfazed Honey Badger Casually Battle Six Lions and Live to Tell About It

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Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: November 10, 2023

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Honey badger and lion
© LouisLotterPhotography/

Key Points:

  • Honey badgers are ferocious animals in spite of their humble size. They are very aggressive, using their sharp claws, bites, and pungent musk to go on the offense or defend themselves against predators.
  • Lions prey on honey badgers but aren’t always successful in taking them down. Lions are larger, faster, and have a more powerful bite force than honey badgers.
  • Watch an amazing video where two honey badgers survive a scuffle with a lion pride.

When a small mammal takes on six lions, you’d think that the odds would be in the big cats’ favor. This incredible clip will make you think again. Honey badgers are not normal little mammals. The honey badgers in this clip were not remotely scared by the lions. They swagger out of the reeds and stroll directly up to the group of predators. This was no chance encounter, the honey badgers actually seemed to be looking for a fight!  As the clip shows, honey badgers have the skills and attributes to fight off much larger animals.

What Are Honey Badgers?


Honey badgers have incredibly loose skin and can turn around and bite their attacker!

©Braam Collins/

Honey badgers (Mellivora capensis) are also sometimes called ratels and are small mammalian species. They are a native species of sub-Saharan Africa and are also found in the Arabian peninsula, the Indian peninsula, and parts of western Asia. These adaptable animals can live in a variety of habitats including tropical and subtropical forests. However, they are also found on rocky hills and even in deserts. Their main requirements are a food source and rock crevices or burrows where they can shelter.

In terms of appearance, they have a fairly elongated but stocky body and their size varies with location. Most do not grow much over two feet in length or weigh more than around 25 pounds. Their neck and shoulders are muscular.

You can spot the typical coloration in this clip – the bottom half of the coat is darker and the upper half is grey or even white.

Why Are Honey Badgers So Brave?

The honey badger has quite the reputation for being a brave and fierce fighter.

©en: User:Jaganath, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

These guys have a number of attributes that make them difficult to kill but they are not indestructible. Their list of predators is short but impressive -they can be killed by lions, leopards, and spotted hyenas and that is about it!

So, what protection do these guys have? Firstly, their coloration makes them look a little like a baby cheetah and that is enough to put many predators off. They also have enlarged anal glands that produce a foul-smelling substance when they feel threatened. This is often accompanied by a typical threat display – their hair stands on end to make them appear larger.

Their skin is so loose that they can turn completely around and bite the animal back even when it is in their jaws! The narrator in this clip mentions this and their vocalization – a rattling sound that also puts a lot of animals off. They have strong legs and sharp claws and have learned that the best form of defense is attack!

Is It Normal for a Honey Badger to Survive a Lion Attack?

Honey badgers, though much smaller in size than adult lions are formidable foes for the king of the jungle to take on. Their thick skin is difficult for a predator to penetrate, they have ferocious bites, and their sharp claws are wickedly sharp. Honey badgers also have an overpowering musk that can send many animals fleeing. They have even been known to kill lion cubs.

However, it’s difficult for them to stand up to full-grown lions, especially as lions fight in groups. Lions outmatch honey badgers in size, speed, and bite force, plus they have sharp, powerful claws. While the honey badgers in the video made it out of the fray alive, it’s not always the case. Lions do prey on honey badgers, often winning the fight and making a meal of them.

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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