Which animal would win in a battle between a Wolverine and a Honey Badger?

Answer by Rory Young:

Both of these animals are the largest and most successful mustelids in their respective ranges.

They are equally renowned for their ferocity, their ability to take punishment and their unbelievable gluttony.

The honey badger measures up to 96 cm is length, up to 28 cm at the shoulder and weighs up to 16kg.

The wolverine is much larger; up to 107cm in length, up to 45cm at the shoulder and weighs up to 25kg.

I will break down the respective weaponry and defenses for each species.

Firstly the wolverine.

Northern Bad Attitude

The wolverine's teeth are unique. They have a special molar that is revered ninety degrees which is used for breaking through bone. Their jaws are powerful and the combination of strong jaw muscles and special molars allow them to eat every part of the animal including hooves, bones and teeth.

Wolverine Dentition

According to Dr. Jens Persson from the  Swedish Wolverine Project, wolverine claws are believed to be semi-retractable but are actually fixed. However, the toe biomechanics effectively allows them to perform a similar action which of course allows them to be kept sharp. These claws are also curved and therefore ideal for hooking and shredding.

In terms of behaviour, the wolverine is fearless. It has been recorded killing a polar bear by latching onto the throat with its jaws and suffocating the animal. Its primary means of killing is suffocation by biting the throat and not letting go, and also by crushing with its powerful jaws and specially adapted molars.

Wolverine arguing with a bear.

The wolverine's main defense against predators is its ferocity.
It uses this together with its sharp claws, sharp teeth and powerful jaws and thick skin and fur protect its kills against much bigger predators, including wolves and bears. There is a record of a polar bear having been killed by a wolverine after one latched onto its throat and suffocating it to death.

Although the wolverine is known to have a thick hide, wolverines have been recorded killed by North American porcupines' quills in a number of instances.

Now let's look at the honey badger.

Cheeky Little Shit From The South

Other than its willingness to fight to the bitter end, the honey badger's defenses are fourfold.

Firstly, it is built to take a beating. Honey badgers live in an environment inhabited by many much larger predators, including lions, leopards, hyaenas, Cape hunting dogs, cheetahs and of course, as they both evolved in Africa; man. It is normal for predators in this environment to attack and kill any other predator. This is most likely to reduce food competition. That means that honey badgers have evolved to survive in the same environment as these much larger and well equipped carnivores.

Honey badgers need to be exceptionally tough to survive.  Lions, leopards and hyaenas are all well known to attack and attempt to kill honey badgers.  These attempts are sometimes successful but very often they are not. The honey badger will fight non-stop until it is dead or the attacker tires, at which point the honey badger will make a break for it.

The honey badger has an exceptionally tough, thick and loose hide, specifically evolved to defend it against biting, clawing and stinging. It is almost 6mm thick and extremely tough. A good example of how tough is the fact that African porcupine quills rarely penetrate it. Bear in mind that African porcupines are three times the size of their North American cousins.

Their second defense is tirelessness. They can literally keep fighting for hours on end. This is a problem for a predator already battling to gnaw through the skin. The effort is tiring and the whole time the honey badger is struggling and counterattacking with its own claws and teeth.

Never Say Die. F****ing Ever.

The third defense of the honey badger is that when attacked it will go for its attacker's groin. There are records (Stevenson-Hamilton 1947) from the Kruger National Park in South Africa of adult male Cape buffaloes having bled to death after being savaged by honey badgers in this manner.

Lastly the honey badger has a reversible anal gland. The smell produced by it is described as "suffocating".

The honey badgers weaponry includes a set of much smaller but sharper teeth than that of the wolverine, sharp claws and equal ferocity and stubbornness to that of the wolverine.

In my opinion it boils down to whether the wolverine could get through the honey badger's defenses to kill him and whether the honey badger even has the tools to kill a wolverine.

Whilst the wolverines weaponry is formidable, it does not approach that of lions, leopards or hyaenas. Below is a link to a video of a leopard battling to kill a honey badger. It succeeds in the end but takes one hour to do so.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSo0v-Zipr0
Another video shows a honey badger fending off six lions and then making good his escape.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iksnk1YVkac
Now let's look at a hypothetical fight between the two animals.

I think we can pretty much discount either animal's claws doing much other than superficial damage to the other.

The wolverine's greater strength and powerful jaws and teeth would very likely enable it to overpower the honey badger.

However, like the much more powerful leopards and lions it would very likely have a very hard time getting through the honey badger's hide. This would take it possibly hours to do. Would it have to have the stamina to keep fighting the struggling honey badger which would not give up till the death.

As for the honey badger, its teeth, although smaller than the wolverine's would very likely be able to penetrate the wolverine's hide. However, it would not be able to kill the wolverine by biting it to death.

There is of course the question of whether the wolverine could suffocate the honey badger via biting the throat.

This is highly unlikely because of the same loose, thick hide, which is also why lions and leopards take so long to kill them and they have more powerful jaws and wider gapes.

In my opinion honey badger would either rip off the wolverines genitalia, thus causing it to bleed to death or both would die via prolonged mutual mutilation .

After all this talk of these animals' strengths I would like to point out the one big weakness they both possess. They are worse than pigs.

They will eat anything and everything they can their greedy gobs ahold of.

In the case of wolverines they are so greedy that they have been recorded dying after stuffing themselves full of porcupine without taking the time to remove the quills.

I have witnessed the disgraceful and the debilitating extent of honey badger gluttony after one got into a store room at a safari camp I once worked at.

After spending the entire night gorging himself on every foodstuff imaginable he was discovered by one of the workers who ran to tell everybody.

We were of course worried about how we would get him out of there. We needn't have worried.

When we opened the door he literally crawled out on his belly. He had eaten so much that he went straight past us without even glancing left or right and groaning not growling. I wouldn't have been surprised if he had died as a result.

We didn't see him again for a week and when we did he had a very embarrassed look about him.

So, if you ever have to kill one of either of these species the easiest way would probably be to just feed the buggers to death..

A Hungry Honey Badger is an Angry Honey Badger..

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One thought on “Which animal would win in a battle between a Wolverine and a Honey Badger?

  1. Honey Badger Vs Wolverine | Laatuasunnot

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