As palpable as you may assume the winner to be, it would not be on a silver platter. Though lacking in overall size, the honey badger is quite a formidable armoury itself. With sharp claws, thick skin, agility, and superior intelligence, the honey badger might just be able to take on the ‘King of the Jungle’.
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Keys To Identification
The Lion, the second largest cat in the world after the tiger, is a ferocious animal commonly referred to as the ‘King of the Jungle’ or the ‘King of Beasts’. This regal feline has been admired throughout history as a symbol of courage and strength. Male lions are generally larger than the females and have a distinctive thick mane of hair around their heads. The thicker the mane, the more intimidating the lion is to its adversaries and other competing males.
A full-grown male lion can grow up to 6 to 7 feet (1.8-2.1 meters) long, excluding a 1-meter tail. He is approximately 1.2 meters in shoulder height and weighs 370 to 500 pounds (170-230 kg). The lioness, on the other hand, has a body length of 1.5 meters, 0.9 to 1.1 meters shoulder height, and a weight of 120 to 180 kg. Their coats can vary in color from buff yellow, orange-brown, or silvery gray to dark brown. They have a tuft of dark hair at the end of their tails.
With no resemblance to other badger species, the honey badger’s anatomy is similar to that of weasels. It is the largest terrestrial mustelid in Africa. Just like the lions, the male badgers are larger than the female ones. A fully grown honey badger can measure up to 11 inches (28cm) in shoulder height and 22 to 30 inches (55-77 cm) in body length. They have a tail measuring about 4.7 to 11.8 inches.
Male honey badgers can weigh up to 16 kg (35ld) while females weigh up to 10 kg (22lb). Their fairly long body is distinctly thick and broad across the back. Their skin is loose, allowing them to turn and twist freely. The skin around their necks is approximately 6 millimeters thick, a good adaptation to fighting.
Habitat And Behavior
The honey badger is mainly found in India, Southeast Asia, and Africa. They are solitary creatures who live in burrows. However, they are lazy housekeepers and can get comfortable in just any crevice or hole, be it in the dens of aardvarks or the tunnels of foxes, mongooses, or springhares. They are fast diggers and would do it anywhere – in the ground, a tree trunk, or even an old termite mound. Honey badgers can unleash a suffocating smell from a reversible anal pouch which helps keep off predators. Despite being lone rangers, their reputation describes them as fearless and intelligent creatures.
Lions have roamed mostly in Africa and some parts of Asia and Europe, thus the existence of Asiatic and African lions. They stick to grasslands, scrub, or open woodlands where they can easily hunt. Lions are known to live pride. A typical pride can consist of up to three adult males and a dozen females with their young. However, some pride can be extremely large with up to 40 members. The members of a pride spend the day in several scattered groups but may unite to hunt or share a meal. Each pride has its well-defined territory which is strongly defended against intruding lions by the pride’s males.
Hunting And Diet
Female lions are the main hunters of the pride. They prey upon antelopes, wildebeest, zebras, and other large animals of the open grasslands. Teamwork is vital as most of these animals are faster than the lion. In seasons when prey is scarce, lions scavenge food from hyenas and wild dogs. Occasionally, males would join the hunt particularly if the prey is extremely large.
The honey badgers, however, will eat anything and everything. They’re omnivores and would go after mammals, birds, honey, fruits, and roots. Snakes, however, are a major meal in their menu as they have immunity to most venom. These badgers are also known to scavenge the kills of bigger animals when an opportunity arises. They use their sharp claws, powerful teeth, and jaws for hunting and protection since their diversity of food matches their number of adversaries.
Mating And Reproduction
A male honey badger may mate with more than one female. Before mating, males meet up and compete for a chance to mate a receptive female during oestrus for several days. Pregnancy takes six months after which the female gives birth to a litter of two cubs who are naked and blind. They take care of their cubs for a minimum of 8 months after which the cub is left to depend on its own.
Male lions attain sexual maturity at two years although they are unlikely to breed until 4-5 years of age when they’re large enough to take over a pride and gain breeding rights. Female lions attain sexual maturity at 4 years and have a gestation period of around four months. They give birth away from the pride and hide their cub for the first six weeks after which they can then rejoin the pride.
Who Would Win The Fight?
Despite the lion’s ability to kill easily, a honey badger will be quite a piece of work. It is never known to fear a lion’s attack and will even try to take revenge against it. Records of a confrontation between the two have shown quite a tag as the honey badger would not go down easy.
The honey badger would release a strong suffocating smell at the sight of a predator like a lion. However, this would not be enough to keep an adamant lion away. The rubbery impervious skin of the honey badger can prevent a lion’s bite from sinking deep enough to cause any real damage. Its strong hard skull would also protect it from the lion’s jaws. Squirming about its loose skin, the honey badger could get in just the right position to scath the lion with its long sharp claws and maybe find a route of escape. It is without a doubt that the confrontation would turn grim for a lion trying to make a meal out of an agitated honey badger.
However, it is unlikely that a lion would hunt alone and for a group of lions, the honey badger might just fall prey to the pack.