JULIUS, THE HONEY BADGER
Honey badgers are found in South Africa, Middle East and India. They are in the same family as weasels and are generally a solitary animal. With very strong and long claws they often dig burrows and have a reputation of being houdinis when it comes to being held in captivity. One of his older cohorts at Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre was the escape artist who had previously escaped their enclosure by using a rake, sticks, mud and stones. They also make very good swimmers and can climb trees.
Skunk-like, they have a gland at the base of their tail which emits a distinctive smell when distressed. But they are quite fearless generally and are quite aggressive with vicious teeth that can break the shell of a tortoise or an animals skull. Its skin can resist a venomous snake bite, and they have been known to sleep off a deadly bite, wake up and eat the snake. They have even been known to attack and kill a lion or buffalo by biting their genitals and leaving them to bleed out, then stealing their kill for food. But honey is their dessert, and they love it, hence their name.
Having said all that, they are also rather cute, but only when hand reared or rescued, as was Julius. He was only a few months old and very dependent on being hand fed his special diet of formula and other tasty omnivorous titbits including meal worms.
Julius soon became the centre of all the volunteers attention and regularly had his harem of females and the odd male fan playing with him in the afternoons after his nap. He loved to walk over everyone’s laps, rolling around and nibbling on fingers. I wonder if we will still be able to do that when he is fully grown?!
He was rather uncoordinated soon after awaking and often rolled out of his bed and staggered around until fully roused. Once awake though he became quite a handful and was very energetic and full of life. We all loved him and he became quite popular as an ambassador of his kind when tour groups visited Moholoholo. He had a cute grunting sound and was quite vocal when handled, with adults known for being able to hiss, grunt, whine, squeak and growl. Hopefully he will have a long and prosperous life in captivity as he is expected to live to around 25 years old.
[Photos and Videos by Tony and Irene Isaacson]