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Are Honey Badgers One Of the World’s Smartest Animals?


Honey badgers might be some of the most intelligent animals on the planet. But just how clever are they?

- Honey badgers are really cool.

They have these really complex ecological lives, these very broad diets.

So they need to climb, they need to dig.

They do these behaviors that indicates a high level of intelligence, but we haven't actually tested that yet.

- [Narrator] Stoffel's more obliging son, Stumpy, and another rescued honey badger, Julius, are taking on the challenge.

So far the honey badgers have shown problem solving skills and adaptability.

But in the third and final test, can they do something that would mark them as one of the most intelligent animals on the planet?

Use tools.

- We've hung the box from a tree, so the honey badger can't reach it from the top, they can't reach it from the bottom.

The only way they can reach it is by dragging either a tire or their cage under it so that they can then step up and reach the food that is inside.

(gentle music) If, in fact, honey badgers can use tools, this puts them up there with some of the smartest animals in the animal kingdom like chimpanzees or elephants.

So it would be really exciting.

- Every single one has had that ability to escape, to take an object to the side of the wall and climb out.

So definitely the potential's there.

- [Woman] So he seems to be just jumping and trying to get to the box, but not making that connection that he needs to bring the crate or the tire over.

He really wants it, but he just can't seem to figure out how to get to it.

- [Man] You see, he knows there's something there.

- Mm, he's looking at it.

(gentle music) He pushed his crate closer to the box, so that he could then climb on top of the crate and get to the box.

Which indicates tool use and is really exciting.

- Stunning.

That is pretty cool.

Yeah, I must say.

(dramatic music) - Giving them this puzzle box is confirming what we've long suspected, that honey badgers are very good at solving problems, that they're very exploratory and adaptable.

From what we've seen they're up there with the top innovators in the animal kingdom.

- [Narrator] It's this intelligence, often misread as calculated and cunning, that gives these animals an edge in the wild.

(dramatic music)