Q:

Are honey badgers immune to venom?

A:

Quick Answer

Honey badgers have a strong immunity to venom from snakes and scorpions. They also have other physical characteristics that protect them from envenomed bites and stings.

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Full Answer

Honey badgers, or ratels, eat so many snakes and scorpions that they develop a natural immunity to the venom of these animals. They have low sensitivity to venom as a species and have similar characteristics to their mongoose relatives. Some scientific data suggests that a lifetime of small bites by venomous animals, such as bees, scorpions and snakes, helps the honey badger to build up an immunity to venom.

In addition to developing immunity, honey badgers have physical qualities that help them avoid bites and stings from venomous animals. They have tough skin, making it more difficult for venom to be injected into their bodies. Their skin is also very loose, which allows them to turn and bite any animals attempting to attack and envenomate them. They are fast, smart and fierce. These characteristics mean the honey badger is both less likely to be bitten and less reactive to the venom of snakes, scorpions and bees.

In the wild, observers have seen snakes bite honey badgers, have seen the badgers swelling and showing signs of distress and then sleeping. After the honey badgers wake up, they walk away, showing no evidence of taking a bite that would have killed almost any other animal.

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