I've been getting a lot of mail about the honey badger video I posted a few days ago (if you haven't seen it, watch now). Some of my interlocutors are asking whether I posted the video because the honey badger is a metaphor for some aspect or another of life in the Middle East. The answer is no; I posted the video because the honey badger is a bad-ass little crazy dude. Also because the voice-over is so hysterical.
Some of you wrote to ask whether it is possible that the honey badger could actually survive a bite from a King Cobra. After extensive research conducted by Christopher Orr, the Atlantic's senior editor in charge of our small rabid animal coverage, I can report with surety that the honey badger can indeed survive a bite from a King Cobra. Humans can't, even elephants can't. Which is yet another reason why the honey badger is a bad-ass. Here is National Geographic on the honey badger's immunity to snake venom (including puff adder venom):
Snakes make high-yield meals, and honey badgers track them relentlessly. Wherever snakes try to hide--up trees, in dense brush, or underground--badgers follow and attack. A 13-minute treetop battle with a venomous Cape cobra earned this female badger a pound and a half of meat for herself and her cub. In summer, when snakes are most active, they provide more than half the total food badgers consume. Even lethal puff adders are on the menu.
One night we saw a young male collapse. He'd been struck in the face by a puff adder just before he bit its head off. We expected that he would die. But after two hours he woke up, groggily finished his meal, and later trotted off into the sunrise. We witnessed other encounters in which honey badgers appeared resistant to even the most potent venoms, though we don't yet understand the physiology that protects them.