Honey badgers are the largest terrestrial mustelids in Africa. Adults measure 23 to 28 cm (9. 1 to 11. 0 in) in shoulder height and 55–77 cm (22–30 in) in body length, with the tail adding another 12–30 cm (4. 7–11. 8 in). Females are smaller than males. In Africa, males weigh 9 to 16 kg (20 to 35 lb) while females weigh 5 to 10 kg (11 to 22 lb) on average. The mean weight of adult honey badgers from different areas has been reported at anywhere between 6. 4 to 12 kg (14 to 26 lb), with a median of roughly 9 kg (20 lb), per various studies. This positions it as the third largest known badger, after the European badger and hog badger, and fourth largest extant terrestrial mustelid after additionally the wolverine. However, the average weight of three wild females from Iraq was reported as 18 kg (40 lb), about the typical size of the males from largest-bodied populations of wolverines or from male European badgers in late autumn, indicating that they can attain much larger than typical sizes in favorable conditions. Skull length is 13. 9–14. 5 cm (5. 5–5. 7 in) in males and 13 cm (5. 1 in) for females.
The species first appeared during the middle Pliocene in Asia. Its closest relation was the extinct genus Eomellivora , which is known from the upper Miocene , and evolved into several different species throughout the whole Pliocene in both the Old and New World .