Do honey badgers deserve their fearsome reputation?

Honey badgers (or Ratels) do deserve a fierce reputation. They will kill and eat venomous snakes, scorpions, porcupines and young crocodiles and they are generally able to defend themselves against attack from big cats and other large carnivores. Most impressively they will tear apart bees nests for the honey and larvae, regardless of the numerous potentially fatal bee-stings. They are not, however, man-eaters … 295138.stm

Ratels are relatives of the Wolverine (or Glutton) which is also renowned for being able to kill moose and drive wolves and small bears off a kill, despite only being the size of a dog.

Members of this family (Mustelids) are generally considered pretty formidable, even when only the size of a weasel.

Ratels - like wolverines, Tasmanian devils and various other carnivorous mammals - do have an embellished reputation, but they really are tough, aggressive animals, and well able to hold their own against even much larger creatures. They are respected by lions and hunting dogs and Maurice Burton wrote of cases where ratels have attacked cape buffalo, though quite what they might have gained from this I'm not sure. They are also documented reacting aggressively to elephants. Like many mustelids, ratels have a tough yet loose coat: if bitten or grabbed, they can still twist and move enough to bite an attacker. Their forelimbs are very well-muscled, their claws are very long and sharp, and they have a strong bite. It has been suggested that their striking pattern might be aposematic (that is, it evolved to warn other animals away), and it has even been suggested that some other mammals (like cheetahs, which as juveniles have a silvery mane) have evolved to mimic ratels.