Natural World: Watch mischievous honey badgers taunt BBC filmmakers

Could these cute black and white critters be the most fearless animals in the world? How many other animals do you know that bite lions' balls, fight with venomous snakes and raid bees' nests? Series editor Roger Webb and director Steve Gooder reveal more about these incredible creatures...


The light-hearted and entertaining Honey Badgers: Masters of Mayhem (9pm on BBC2) takes a look at these naughty, tenacious mammals from South Africa, described as the most fearless animal on the planet. 


We’ll take a look at different people’s encounters with honey badgers in Limpopo and Kruger National Park. One is a scientist named Brian Jones, who is trying to get a better grasp of what these animals are capable of. “At one point, he was trying to look after a honey badger in his house,” explains series editor Roger Webb. “It gets up to all sorts of mayhem, raiding his fridge, nicking his bacon. Eventually he tries to put it in an enclosure but it keeps escaping.”


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For its size, the honey badger has a huge brain. These very intelligent creatures can undo locks, use tools and climb out of enclosures. “They are smarter than they should be,” explains show director Steve Gooder, who spent four weeks in one location, desperately trying to get some footage of the cheeky creatures. “They gave us the slip every time,” says Gooder, who wasn’t going to give up. “They’re relatively mysterious, they’re not thought to be rare but they keep a low profile and are quite sneaky.”

However, honey badgers are not afraid of being found; this is, after all, the same creature that would happily pick a fight with a lion. “They come with a massive reputation,” says Gooder, whose team gets attacked by a honey badger while filming (see clip below). “There are all these stories about them biting people’s balls. They have a reputation for attacking private parts. Everyone we spoke to had a story about them. One guy we talked to said that a honey badger had broken into a lion enclosure deliberately so he could fight lions. Apparently, he went for their private parts and the lions were completely freaked out. Another guy we met said that they bite hyenas’ private parts when they have fights with them. They are super smart.”


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These marvelous creatures also have a penchant for venomous snakes. “They eat all the different kinds of snakes from cobras to black adders and black mambas, and all these snakes have different kinds of venom,” explains Gooder. “What they will do is fight the snake, get bitten by it and that will knock them out a bit so they will go to sleep as they process the venom. Meanwhile, they’ve mortally injured the snake and they wake up and just scoff the snake. They’re quite cool little critters.”

Beekeepers in Africa often run into honey badgers, which try to break open their hives. One man in the show tries to create a badger proof hive. Gooder says it was no use; “he built this great big cage with beehives in it, but the badgers managed to climb up these poles, even though there’s no grip. He tried to grease the poles but even that didn’t keep them off.” Somehow the badgers always outsmart the humans.

Coming up on Natural World next – David Attenborough’s Fabulous Frogs. “David adores frogs,” says Webb, “they’re creatures that are very easy to overlook and underestimate. They’re quite remarkable, they live in every environment on earth, from the frozen north to the desert, which is extraordinary for an animal like a frog. I think we just think of them as jumping around in ponds. It makes you realise what remarkable animals they are.

“What we love about Natural World, and we hope the audience does as well, is that we always look for the remarkable in nature, the stories that stand out.”

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