Monday, September 8, 2014

The Honey Guide and Ratel

One form of symbiosis is Mutualism, or when neither party involved is hurt or harmed and they are both benefited is some way. One such example is the relationship between the Honey Guide Bird and the Ratel, or more commonly known as the Honey Badger.

The Honey Badger is a dog sized member of the Mellivora genus. In fact it is the only member of aforementioned subfamily. Despite its frankly diminutive size compared to other predators in its home of central Africa, the Honey Badger is disputed to be the bravest mammal in the world, frequently hunting and killing some of the most venomous snakes in the world and fighting of larger predators such as lions and hyenas.

In stark comparison is the timid and unimpressive member of the Indicatoridae family known as the Honey Guide (more specifically the Greater Honeyguide of Africa). They are some of the few bird species which regularly feed on beeswax, and in that lay the connection of these two creatures. 

The guide bird has be observed in nature to attracted the attention of young or female Ratels by flying close to their faces and flashing their bright under-feathers and loud chattering. once the bird has the Ratel's attention it flies to an occupied bee's hive and again flashes it's bright feathers and flies in special flight patterns to make itself most conspicuous. From there the Ratel, who's favorite food is honey, begins to tear apart the hive to consume the honey. With such a thick hide the Ratel is barely fazed by the stings where the Honeyguide would be killed by even a small swarm. After the ratel has finished with the hive the bird swoops in to eat the discarded wax.

It should also be noted that these birds are clever enough to realize the potential in leading local, human honey-hunters to hives. But this behavior is disappearing due to rural tribes relying more on store bought sugar than wild honey.

The Honey Guide Bird Leads the Honey Badger ( Amazing Partnership ).Youtube. N.p., n.d. Web. 

"The Honey-guide Bird and the Ratel: An Extraordinary Partnership."Historical Articles and Illustrations » Blog Archive ». N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2014. 

"Honey Badger." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 09 June 2014. Web. 08 Sept. 2014. 

"Greater Honeyguide." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2014. 

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