15 Amazing Facts About Aardvarks

The aardvark, also known as the Orycteropus afer, is a burrowing, nocturnal mammal native to Africa. While other prehistoric Tubulidentata species and genera are recognized, it is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata. It has a long pig-like snout that it uses to search out food, unlike most other insectivores. Here are 15 Amazing facts about aardvarks…

  1. Unique Name: The word “aardvark” originates from the Afrikaans language, where it means “earth pig.” This name reflects the animal’s burrowing habits and its pig-like snout.
  2. Solitary Nocturnal Creatures: Aardvarks are primarily nocturnal, spending the daylight hours sleeping in burrows they’ve dug with their powerful claws. They are generally solitary animals.
  3. Distinctive Appearance: Aardvarks have a unique appearance with a tubular snout, long ears, and a tail resembling that of a kangaroo. Their bodies are stout, and they have strong limbs with sharp claws.
  4. Specialized Diet: Despite their pig-like appearance, aardvarks are insectivores, mainly feasting on ants and termites. Their long, sticky tongue, which can extend up to 30 centimeters, helps them lap up their prey.
  5. Excellent Diggers: Aardvarks are proficient diggers, capable of creating burrows with impressive speed. They use their powerful limbs and claws to excavate burrows for shelter and protection.
  6. Rapid Digging: Aardvarks can amazingly dig a hole big enough to hide from predators in just five minutes. This skill is crucial for their survival in the wild, plus they are rapid escapees when dodging predators like lions.
  7. Nocturnal Vision: Aardvarks have relatively poor eyesight during the day, but they compensate with an excellent sense of smell, which aids them in locating their prey.
  8. Vulnerable Ears: Aardvarks have large, sensitive ears that can be rotated independently. These ears help them detect sounds of approaching predators or the movement of underground insects.
  9. Limited Distribution: Aardvarks are native to Africa, inhabiting a range of environments from savannas to rainforests. However, their distribution is limited, and they are absent from certain regions, such as Madagascar.
  10. Conservation Status: While aardvarks are not currently considered endangered, their populations face threats due to habitat loss, hunting, and the expansion of human activities in their natural habitats.
  11. Slow Reproduction: Aardvarks have a relatively slow reproductive rate. Females typically give birth to a single cub after a gestation period of seven months.
  12. Lack of Teeth: Adult aardvarks lack teeth, and their jaws are adapted for grinding and crushing insects. They rely on their powerful stomach muscles to break down food efficiently.
  13. Limited Vocalizations: Aardvarks are not known for vocalizing frequently. They produce soft grunts or hisses, but their communication is mainly non-vocal and relies on scent marking.
  14. Unique Classification: Aardvarks belong to their own order called Tubulidentata, and they are the only living species within this order. Their closest living relatives are elephants and manatees.
  15. Zoological Mystery: Despite being fascinating creatures, aardvarks are relatively unknown to the general public. Their elusive nature, combined with their nocturnal habits, makes them a mystery in the wild.

It travels through the majority of the African continent’s southern two-thirds, avoiding mountainous regions. It is a nocturnal feeder that feeds on ants and termites that digs out of their nests with its sharp claws and strong legs. A chief among excavators, it easily and quickly can make burrows in which to live and raise its young.

Appearance of the Aardvark

The aardvark resembles a pig in appearance. It has a stout body with a prominently arched back and coarse hairs sparsely covering it. The limbs are moderately long, with the back legs being longer than the front legs.

The pollex (or ‘thumb’) is non existent on the front feet, leaving just four toes, while the back feet have all five toes. Each toe has a large, sturdy nail that is flattened and shovel-like, and looks like a cross between a claw and a hoof. While the aardvark is classified as digitigrade, it does tend to be plantigrade at times.

This is due to the fact that when it squats, it sits on its soles. Aardvarks have an endosteal tissue called compacted coarse cancellous bone that contributes to their burrow digging abilities (CCCB). CCCB’s stress and strain tolerance help aardvarks to dig their burrows, resulting in favorable habitat for plants and a number of animals.

Aardvark | Aardvark Facts and Information
Baby Aardvark | Aardvark Facts and Information

The aardvark can twist and turn at high speed to avoid the claws of predators like lions and never straying to far from a burrow, the clever creature, can dive back to its subterranean lair with its predator left in a cloud of dust.

The average aardvark weighs between 60 and 80 kilograms (130–180 lb). The length of an aardvark is normally between 105 and 130 centimeters (3.44–4.27 in), but it can grow to be as long as 2.2 meters (7 ft 3 in) when its tail (which can be up to 70 centimeters (28 in)) is considered.

At the hip, it stands 60 centimeters (24 in) tall and has a girth of around 100 centimeters (3.3 ft). It is the largest member of the Afroinsectiphilia clade. The aardvark is a pale yellowish-gray animal with a reddish-brown coat stained by dirt. The aardvark’s coat is thin, and the animal’s tough skin serves as its primary defense.

Habitat of the Aardvark

Aardvarks can be found in Sub-Saharan Africa, where they can find suitable habitats (such as savannas, grasslands, woodlands, and bushland) as well as food (such as ants and termites). To escape the heat of the day, they pass the daytime hours in dark burrows.

The only major habitat where they are not found is swamp forest, where digging to a proper depth is impossible due to the high water table. They even stay away from the ground that is too rocky to dig in. In Ethiopia, they have been seen as high as 3,200 meters (10,500 feet). With a few exceptions, they are found in Sub-Saharan Africa, all the way to South Africa. Namibia’s, Ivory Coast’s, and Ghana’s coastal regions are among the exceptions.

The hair on its head and tail is short, but the hair on its legs is longer. The bulk of its body hair is clustered in clusters of three or four hairs. The thick hair around its nostrils helps it flush out particulate matter when it digs. Its tail is thick at the beginning and eventually thins out.

Behavior of the Aardvark

Aardvarks will live up to about 23 years when they are kept in captivity. Predators such as tigers, leopards, cheetahs, African wild dogs, hyenas, and pythons are detected by their acute hearing. Aardvarks are also hunted for meat by some humans.

To elude attackers, aardvarks will dig quickly or sprint in a zigzag pattern, but if all else fails, they can strike with their paws, tail, and shoulders, sometimes flipping onto their backs and lying motionless except to lash out with all four feet. They are capable of causing significant harm to an attacker’s vulnerable areas. They can also dig to escape because they can dig incredibly quickly when pressed.

Diet of the Aardvark

The aardvark is a nocturnal, solitary animal that feeds almost entirely on ants and termites (myrmecophagy); the aardvark cucumber is the only fruit consumed by aardvarks. In reality, the cucumber and the aardvark have a symbiotic relationship since they eat the underground fruit and then defecate the seeds near their burrows, where they develop quickly due to the loose soil and fertile environment.

Aardvark | Aardvark Facts and Information

The time spent in the aardvark’s intestine aids the seed’s viability, and the fruit provides the aardvark with much-needed moisture. The vitamins and minerals in the plant provide beneficial nutrients to their otherwise rigid diet.

aardvarks are highly sensitive to changes in their environment, making them particularly vulnerable to climate change. As temperatures rise and rainfall patterns shift, the delicate balance they rely upon for their survival is disrupted. This disruption affects the availability of their primary food source, termites, and can lead to malnutrition and starvation. While aardvarks may not have the skills to protest global warming, we must take action to protect their habitats and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Fantastic Facts About the Aardvark

  • African driver ants and red ants are the only ants aardvarks don’t consume.

Reproduction

Aardvarks only pair during the breeding season; after a seven-month gestation period, one cub weighing around 1.7–1.9 kilograms (3.7–4.2 lb) is born during May–July. The young have flaccid ears and many wrinkles when they are born.

When nursing, babies will nurse from each teat in turn. After two weeks, the skin folds vanish, and after three weeks, the ears can be held upright. Body hair begins to grow after 5–6 weeks. It can leave the burrow to accompany its mother after only two weeks, begins eating termites at nine weeks, and is weaned between three and sixteen weeks.

Young aardvarks can dig burrows at six months of age, but they will mostly stay with the mother until the next mating season, and when sexually maturity arrives at two years of age.

Conservation of Aardvarks

Aardvarks were thought to be in decline, but this could be because they are difficult to see. Because of their nocturnal and secretive habits, there are no definitive counts; however, their numbers appear to be stable overall. They are not considered common anywhere in Africa, but due to their wide range, they are able to maintain a sufficient population. Eastern, northern, and western Africa may see a slight decrease in population. The population of Southern Africa is not decreasing. The IUCN has officially classified it as a species of least concern.

Now, you may be thinking, “What can I do to help these magnificent creatures?” Fear not, for there is hope! Supporting organizations that focus on habitat protection and conservation efforts is a significant step in the right direction. Additionally, spreading awareness about the importance of aardvarks and their role in maintaining ecological balance can help garner much-needed attention and support for their cause.

Q & A About Aardvarks

Is it true that the Aardvarks are dangerous?

Their primary form of defense is to quickly escape underground, but they are also known to be quite aggressive when threatened by larger animals.

Why is an aardvark called an ant bear?

The aardvark’s name is derived from the Afrikaans/Dutch language and translates as “earth pig.” They eat ants mostly, so they are kind of “anteaters,” but with their gate look like bears from a distance. Aardvarks, are a distinct species from anteaters which are an South American species.

Is an armadillo the same as an aardvark?

The aardvark resembles a few other animals, including the anteater, armadillo, and pig, but it is not related to any of them. With its humped back and long snout, it resembles an anteater at first glance.

In Conclusion

Aardvarks may be introverted and solitary creatures, but when it comes to their behavior and reproduction, they’re anything but dull.15 amazing facts may help to draw a picture of these wonderful creatures.

he primary threat to aardvarks is habitat loss. As the world’s population continues to expand, humans encroach upon the natural habitats of these marvelous creatures. Forests are cut down, grasslands are converted into agriculture fields, and urban sprawl creeps further into the land. This destruction destroys the homes and food sources of aardvarks, leaving them vulnerable and displaced.

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