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AARDVARK » Characteristics and Habits

The Aardvark is a very peculiar rare mammal, on the one hand it is considered a living fossil, and on the other it is very similar to the American pangolins and anteaters and even to pigs.

This rare animal, whose scientific name is Orycteropus afer, which means earth pig, has a rather conspicuous appearance and its body parts are designed to be able to get its food effectively.

What does the Aardvark look like?

The Aardvark is a large mammal that can measure from 1 to 3 meters and weigh between 40 and 65 kilos. So it’s one of the largest rare animals.

Apparently this rare mammal is very similar to a common pig. It has long ears, its head is elongated, its muzzle is flexible, the skin on its body is a pale colour.

The legs of ant pigs are not the same, as those at the back are shorter than those at the front. They have five toes each, but the two back legs do not have a thumb.

Aardvarks’ legs have an excellent hunting weapon, we refer to their powerful nails that have a shape similar to that of a flattened shovel.

Aardvarks have a well-developed sense of smell, but their eyesight is not very good. In fact, they are considered to be colorblind.

When they run or are in motion, we can often see them stumbling into trees or anything in their path.

However, their eyes are covered with hairs that serve as sensors and are very useful in the face of their limited vision.

The teeth of this mammal have no enamel, which means that they wear out over time but regenerate whenever necessary.

Birth

At birth, the aardvark already has the canines of the jaw and the incisors. When it reaches adulthood it will only have molars and premolars in the back of its jaw.

The skin of this rare animal is hard and covered with curly hairs. Hair will vary depending on each part of the body.

On most of the body its hair is light but on the legs it is darker. Also the hair on the tail, body and face is thick and short, but on the extremities it is longer.

Another characteristic of this animal is its long and rather muscular tail similar to that of Kangaroos.

Where do the Aardvarks live?

The development territory of these animals can be from 10 to 30 km. Throughout this large territory they are responsible for creating burrows whose size will vary depending on their function.

For example, if the burrow will be shared only by the mother with her young, it is usually small. In the case of the breeding burrow it can be as long as 13 meters.

To make their burrows they use their legs and the fingers of each with their powerful nails, which they move quickly several times to remove the soil.

But, they will stay in the same burrow all their lives as in time they will make new ones and will be changing from one to another.

What does the Aardvark feed on?

These rare mammals feed mainly on termites and ants, which search at night.

Their bodies are equipped with tools to get their food easily and effectively.

For example, it uses its legs to excavate the nests of ants or termite mounds.

Although they are animals that do not move quickly, when it comes to digging, they do so in a rather hurry.

After it has managed to enter or break into the homes of its prey, it sticks its snout in and begins to feed on ants or termites. Its long tongue enables it to feed on quite a number of them in a whole night.

Although many of these ants are aggressive, the skin of the aardvark is prepared for their bites.

If at any time it is difficult to obtain its main food, it may also consume other small animals such as locusts, fungi, mice, larvae and even some seeds.

Reproduction of the Aardvark

It is believed that males are polygamous and only approach females at mating time.

They mate at any time of the year but this will depend on the region where they are.

The female gives birth to only one calf, but on rare occasions there may be two. At birth, the small aardvark can reach a length of 55 cm and weigh two kilos.

They quickly become independent, in fact, weaning takes place just two and a half months after birth. At that time they begin to eat termites and ants.

What are its Predators?

Although the aardvark is not an endangered species, it does have several predators. The list is made up of snakes, dogs, lions, leopards, chimpanzees and, as expected, humans.