In the last couple of weeks, several faithful e-mailers have correctly called me out on the fact that I haven't written about too many badass animals recently. This isn't because there are a shortage of totally awesome, face-rending beasts out there just looking for one good reason to shred your organs with their ultra-sharp claws and then eat your children, or that there aren't plenty of totally-bitchin' Voytek-like war beasts who somehow overcame their lack of prehensile thumbs and received medals, commissions, and military honors for valor in combat, but rather just a simple oversight on my part. So, this week, as I'm sitting here laid up on the couch with a particularly nasty cold/flu/whatever that is kind of kicking my ass, I think there is no better time to write about one of the most vicious, brutal, and throat-crushingly hardcore mammals to ever nut-punch a lion unconscious by swinging a couple King Cobras around like a pair of serpentine nunchucks – the African Honey Badger (also known as the Ratel):
Now for those of you who are looking at that cute, adorable little angry toothy maw and are thinking to yourselves that this cuddly killing machine would be more fitting as a teddy bear than a murderous demon from the blackest darkness of Lucifer's ballsack, I should mention that the picture above was taken as he was charging a jeep that he thought was invading his territory. He's so fearless that he just doesn't give a crap. Sure, the Honey Badger isn't the hugest guy out there – at three and a half feet long and thirty pounds he's roughly the size of the medium dog, and he kind of looks like a skunk that's cracked-out on PCP, but the Ratel is easily one of the most hardcore creatures plaguing the earth today.
I suppose the best way to begin illustrating my point would be with one of the most badass YouTube videos you'll ever see. I'll preface the clip by disclaiming that this video is NSFW, but only if your workplace frowns on things that make you so pumped up that you want to run out and start tearing your co-workers' jugulars out with your teeth.
For those of you who don't enjoy watching things that are awesome, this video is basically a series of high-quality violence-porn courtesy of the Ratel's chomping jaws. In the span of about three minutes this ferocious furry psycho climbs up into a tree to battle a six-foot cobra thirteen feet above the ground, somehow catches and eats a bird, chases off a leopard, and digs some sweet holes, but by far the most incredible aspect of the clip is when the Honey Badger takes on a super-deadly African Puff Adder. Now, the Puff Adder is one of the most murder-tastic snakes on the entire continent. One of these vipers possesses enough venom to kill 4 or 5 men, and they are so violent, toxic, and aggressive that they routinely account for more human fatalities than any other African snake. But the Honey Badger doesn't give a crap – he comes across a puff adder that is eating a rat, and his first instinct is to run up, grab the rat out of the snake's mouth, carry it a few feet away, and then eat the rat right in front of the snake just to show the adder that he's a bitch. After eating the stolen meal, the Badger than decides, "Screw it, now I'm going to eat this damn snake too." This really takes being an asshole to another level, which is something I can appreciate. The adder and the Ratel fight, and the Honey Badger kills the viper, but not before being bitten in the face and pumped full of enough venom to kill a creature three times its size. The Badger succumbs to the poison, falls unconscious, but then – amazingly – somehow comes back to life and continues devouring the already-half-eaten snake. Are you kidding me?
That's just how Ratel operates. He's been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as "The World's Most Fearless Creature" every year since 2002, with no end in sight. A relative of the equally-badass Wolverine, the Honey Badger has no natural predators. This is kind of impressive, since three-foot-long creatures generally don't last long in environments featuring leopards, lions, cheetahs, black mamba snakes, and other savannah beasts, but there you have it. It helps that this thing doesn't screw around when it gets pissed off – the Sir Didimus of wildlife is known to go after anything, anytime, anywhere, and has been known to attack buffalo, humans, wildebeest, jackals, monitor lizards, wild boars, and even lions and cheetahs. If the creature is too huge for the Badger to straight-up eviscerate with its inch-and-a-half long claws or its razor-sharp teeth, the Ratel still knows how to go for the weak spot – the balls. That's right, folks, this thing has been documented as killing male lions by running underneath them and tearing off their scrotums. This is one creature you don't want to go balls-out against.
While chomping balls is fun and all, it's generally not really a good idea to routinely take on predators twice your size if you can help it, so the Honey Badger's primary diet consists of smaller, equally-dangerous creatures that are no less deadly but far more bite-sized. It takes a pretty balls-out animal to routinely eat poisonous snakes, spiders, and scorpions, but the Ratel doesn't give a crap. He also loves honey (which is where the Honey Badger gets his unfortunately-unbadass name) and bee larvae, but his method of getting to them is just as hardcore as he is – he just jams his face into a beehive, and starts eating the baby bees and honey while a bunch of crazy pissed-off bees stab him in the face with their stingers. He doesn't register pain, fear, or any emotion other than anger, and doesn't even seem to noice the hundreds of stab-wounds he's getting all over his hide. It helps that he's heavily armored, with skin that's a quarter of an inch thick (making him somewhat immune to the puny stingers). The thick skin is also cool because loose enough that if another creature bites the Ratel he can still turn around (with the attacker still chomping down) and reposition himself to better bite faces or shred nutsacks. He's so tough that the South African army actually named their heavily-armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle after this voracious predator:
It's not every laborador-sized mammal that gets a damned APC named after it, but the Honey Badger isn't your typical member of the Mammalia class. He's a brutal, vicious killer who kicks asses, never backs down, never registers fear, destroys everything in its path and then adorably trots off into the sunset with his prey in his teeth and the severed nutsacks of his enemies still gripped between his dagger-like claws.
It's a badass animal.