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South Africa Holiday: Aardwark

Aardvarks are endemic to sub-Saharan Africa. They have a distinctive curved back, a pig-like body, a long snout, large ears, powerful limbs and shovel-shaped claws for digging. They have bristly, sparse fur tinged with yellow and white.

Aardvarks are the only living member of the order Tubulidentata and last survivor of a group of primitive ungulates.
South Africa Holiday: Aardvark hunting for termites in the early morning (Tankwa Karoo National Park)
The word aardvark means "earth pig." They have a short neck connected to a large, almost hairless body with a strongly arched back. Head and body length is approximately 1.2m and a tail length of 0.5m. The legs are short, the hind legs longer than the front ones. The head is elongated, with a long, narrow snout and nostrils that can be sealed. The long, tubular ears are normally held upright but can be folded and closed. The short but muscular tail is cone-shaped and tapers to a point. The thick claws on the forefeet are well adapted for digging.
Aardvarks are endemic to Africa and are found in all regions south of the Sahara, from dry savannah to rain forest, where there are sufficient termites for food, access to water and sandy or clay soil.
Aardvarks feed on ants and termites, and can consume about 50,000 insects in a night! Using their strong front limbs, they break into the insects' nests. They can fold their ears back and they have a profusion of nasal hairs to keep out the dust while they're digging.

Lekker Links

African Wildlife Foundation
BBC Science & Nature

Related pages

To do.

Cape Buffalo; Elephant; Leopard; Rhino
Although they have poor eyesight, they have acute hearing, and a good sense of smell - which helps them to locate their prey. The ants and termites are lapped up by the tongue and swallowed whole.
Aardvarks are mostly solitary and nocturnal, but sometimes will come out during the day to sun themselves. When aardvarks sleep, they block the entrance to their burrow, leaving only a very small opening at the top, and curl into a tight ball.
When pursued, an aardvark will furiously dig itself a hole, and when attacked, may roll onto its back and defend itself with its large claws or use its thick tail to somersault away from its attackers.
Aardvarks give birth to a single young after a gestation period of 7 months. The young weigh about 2kg at birth. It ventures out of the burrow at about 2 weeks of age but will stay with its mother for at least 6 months.
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