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A subspecies of honey badger, the Cape honey badger (Mellivora capensis capensis), which is the only species within the Mellivora genus, has very distinct markings. Most of the body is covered in straight, coarse black or dark brown hairs, but a wide strip of wiry grey and white hairs, known as the mantle, runs from the crown of the head to the base of the tail in adults. On some individuals, a pure white band separates the mantle, which becomes darker with age, from the black underparts. The tail is bushy and covered in the same straight, coarse hairs of the body, and ends in a grey or white tip. The muscular, stocky neck and shoulders, together with the broad forefeet and large powerful claws, make light work of digging for small prey. The hind feet are much slighter with smaller claws. Named for its apparent taste for honey, the honey badger is often seen raiding African honey bee nests, although it is in fact also after the juicy developing grubs of the bees and not just the honey. This species is also known as the ‘ratel’, an Afrikaans word for ‘rattle’, as it is known to make a rattle-like cry.

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