Aardvark

Scientific Name
Orycteropus afer

Common Names
Earth Hog, Ant Eater, Ant Bear, Cape Ant-Eater

Classification
Mammal

Close Relatives

Aardvarks are amazing nocturnal african animals that live in burrows reaching 6 metres (20 feet) below the surface. Normally their burrows are closeby to a food source, being a supply of ants or termites in this case. They are territorial creatures which have very large ranges of between 2 to 5 square km’s (1.2 – 3.1 square miles); they may make temporary burrows across their range for shelter, protection and perhaps convenience. They are solitary animals, coming together only to mate. The gestation period is approximately 7 months afterwhich they are reared by their mother until developing independence at about 6 months of age.

During the night Aardvarks venture out for food; their diet consists almost exclusively of ants or termites. Their tongue is adapted for this being long and textured in a way that termites will be stuck to their tongue before consumption. Once a termite mound has been discovered, Aardvarks will use their powerful claws and dig furiously into the mound feeding on any disturbed termites in the process. Their eyesight is adapted to night vision, during the day their eyesight is extremely limited and colorblind. Their hearing and sense of smell however are acute.

An aardvark in the wild is thought to live for about 18 years; in captivity they may live up to 23 years.

Description

Aardvarks weigh around 40-65 kilograms (90 to 140 pounds) and stand about 60 cm (24 inches) tall at the shoulder.

Aardvarks have large powerful claws which are especially useful for digging through termite mounds. They have a short cone shaped tail, and long ears which are usually upright. It has an almost hairless body, a short neck and short legs.

Feats

The aardvark may move its ears independently of another; when digging they are able to fold their ears back and close them completely to prevent dirt or foreign objects entering their ears.