Life-history variables of an atypical mustelid, the honey badger Mellivora capensis


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The honey badger, or ratel, Mellivora capensis has not been well studied and data on life-history variables have previously been incomplete and contradictory. Here we present data on life-history variables that were collected from visual observations as part of the first intensive study of free-living honey badgers (25 radio-marked individuals) and we make comparisons with other similarly sized mustelids (5–25 kg). The honey badger is a non-social species and only the mother rears the young. The data do not support delayed implantation as gestation was a maximum of 50–70 days with the unusually small litter size of one cub. The long time to independence of both male and female cubs (12–16 months) resulted in birth intervals longer than 12 months with no distinct breeding season. Overall the honey badger appears to have a more K-selected life history compared to other species within the Mustelidae.