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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Aardvark: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

One of the random aardvark facts is that they are a burrowing mammal in Southern Africa that's rare and are often high on people's must-see lists on safari.

Aardvark is also known as antbear or earth pig. It is a burrowing mammal found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. They are omnivorous animals, mostly feeding on ants and termites. It has a unique appearance with a pig-like body with hairless skin, long stout, tubular, rabbit-like ears, and spade-like claws. Aardvarks look similar to anteaters but have no relation to them. They belong to the same group of mammals as the African elephant.

Aardvarks are expert diggers. They prefer to stay underground most of the time and have poor vision. That is why they have an excellent sense of smell. This helps them identify predators and navigate their way. An aardvark prefers to stay alone in their burrows and only moves around at night. They have nocturnal eyes, to look for food in the dark. A long sticky tongue helps them gobble up insects, an aardvark's favorites being termites and ants found in soil.

Read on for some more interesting aardvark facts for kids and adults. For more relatable content, check out these giant anteater facts and babirusa facts for kids.

Aardvark Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an aardvark?

Aardvarks are pig-like, solitary animals. Its scientific name is Orycteropus afer. Aardvarks are found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. The name aardvark comes from the Afrikaans language and means 'earth pig' due to its similarities with pigs. They look like a mix of different mammals and have gray, brownish, or yellowish skin. An aardvark's thick and tough skin is almost hairless and helps to protect them from heat and sun.

What class of animal does an aardvark belong to?

Aardvarks belong to the class Mammalia and are the closest living relatives to the African elephant. They also belong to the order Tubulidentata and the Orycteropodidae family. They share a physical resemblance to anteaters however have no relation to them. Aardvarks are the last living members of the Oryceroptus genus.

How many aardvarks are there in the world?

There are 18 species of aardvark all around the world. The current number of the aardvark (Orycteropus afer) population is unknown.

Where does an aardvark live?

Aardvarks live in underground burrows in the Sub-Saharan area. Aardvarks are also found in rainforests, woodlands, and savannas provided that the soil is to their liking. It has strong hind legs and spade-like feet with strong claws which makes them an expert digger and a keen sense of smell to sense its surroundings. These burrows are as deep as 32.8 ft (10 m) and are spread out over an aardvark's home range of 494.2-1235.5 acres (2-5 sq km).

What is an aardvark's habitat?

The aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is part of the African wildlife in the Sub-Saharan area and are found in areas with sandy or clay soil in underground burrows. They prefer to remain underground in search of ants and termite mounds. Aardvarks are also found in rainforests, woodlands, and savannas provided that the soil is to their liking. An aardvark doesn't live in rocky terrains or swamp forests, which are difficult places to dig.

Who do aardvarks live with?

Aardvarks are solitary animals that are never found in large groups and only come together for mating. The female aardvark spends six months with her cub or calf after which the young one leaves to spend his own life of solitude.

How long does an aardvark live?

Aardvarks have an average lifespan of 20 years. In the wild, they live for around 18-23 years of age. They do well in captivity as an aardvark can survive over 23 years in a closed environment.

How do they reproduce?

Aardvarks have specific mating seasons throughout the year. Female aardvarks have a gestation period of seven months and give birth to one young cub, which is hairless and pink. Newborn babies weigh around 4.4 lb (2 kg) and spend the first two weeks in their mother's underground burrow's safety. Till three months of age, the young aardvark isn't allowed to wander on its own. Finally, at six months of age, the young aardvark sets out for its own life of solitude and leaves the mother aardvark's shelter.

What is their conservation status?

Aardvarks are under IUCN's conservation status of Least Concern. Their main predators include lions, leopards, and large snakes (pythons). The major threat the aardvark faces is through loss of habitat through the expansion of human settlements and civilizations.

Aardvark Fun Facts

What do aardvarks look like?

Aardvarks look similar to different mammals. They have an almost hairless body and a long snout that looks similar to a pig. An aardvark has a short neck and rabbit-like ears. The ears are tube-like which can be folded flat to prevent the entry of dirt. They also have strong claws on spade-like feet with strong hind legs. Aardvarks are hairless and pink as babies. The adults develop few hairs and skin of a gray, yellow, or brown color. They are about 79 in (2 m) tall and weigh around 132.3–176.4 lb (60–80 kg) while a newborn aardvark weighs around 4.4 lb (2 kg).

The name aardvark comes from the African language and means 'earth pig' due to its similarities with pigs.

How cute are they?

Baby aardvarks look adorable with their short snouts and long ears. Adults are also pretty cute, although they don't compare to just how cute babies are. Their shy nature just adds to their cute factor.

How do they communicate?

Aardvark is a rather silent animal that makes use of scents more than sounds due to its keen sense of smell compared to their sense of hearing. They do make soft grunting sounds when they look for termite mounds and underground ant nests. When threatened, they make a bleating sound to display aggression. They prefer to stay underground most of the time and have poor vision. They have nocturnal eyes, to look for food in the dark.

How big is an aardvark?

An aardvark is a medium-sized animal despite being the closest living relative to the African elephant. They are about 79 in (2 m) tall, almost half their relative's size.

How fast can an aardvark move?

Aardvarks are fast diggers and can shift almost 2 ft (0.6 m) of soil in 15 seconds. Their burrows can be up to 32.8 ft (10 m) deep. These are spread over a 1.2-3.1 mi (2-5 km) radius. If aardvarks were humans, we would have loads of treasures.

How much does an aardvark weigh?

Aardvarks weigh around 132.3–176.4 lb (60–80 kg) which is almost 50 times lesser than the African elephant. A newborn aardvark weighs around 4.4 lb (2 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

A male aardvark is called a boar and a female aardvark is called a sow. They live as solitary animals so are only found together when they mate. Females tend to stay in the same underground burrow while males move around more. Females give birth after a seven month gestation period.

What would you call a baby aardvark?

A baby aardvark is called a calf or a cub. It stays with its mother and accompanies her for food and shelter in the first 2-4 months. Once it's six months old, a young aardvark leaves home to live alone.

What do they eat?

Aardvarks are picky eaters. They love to eat ants, termites, beetles, and insect larvae. They also feed on an African cucumber called the aardvark cucumber. It's called an aardvark fruit because it requires an aardvark to dig up the fruit, eat it, and spread its seeds through feces.

They can lap up to 50,000 insects a night with their long, sticky tongues inside underground ant nests or termite mounds. They can even spot and trap termites moving away from their mounds. Their love of insects is why they are called antbears. So if you have too many termites at home, guess who you should call for dinner?

Are they dangerous?

Aardvarks are quite shy and sometimes antisocial animals. They are not considered aggressive, however, if they face a lion, leopard, or any other large predator, they may attack with their claws.

Would they make a good pet?

Aardvarks do quite well in captivity and are easy to train. It has been studied that they do better in captivity and live longer lives, some over 23 years. They are shy and often anti-social as a species. However, with patience and termites, a well-trained aardvark can be a wonderful pet bringing you hours of happiness and lots of soil. We mean, joy.

Did you know...

A lot of African tribes and natives hunt aardvarks for their meat and use parts of its body as charms to ward away illnesses. Human settlements and expansion also cause aardvarks to move away.

Aardvard is quite a tricky word to learn to spell. Don't forget the double 'a' at the beginning of the word to spell it correctly!

What are aardvarks known for?

Aardvarks, or Orycteropus afer, are known as expert diggers. They can shift away 4 ft (1.2 m) of soil in 30 seconds. They are also known for their pig-like appearance because of their snout. It is also the origin of their name that means earth pig in Afrikaans in South Africa.

They spend their days sleeping in underground burrows to escape the Sub-Saharan Heat. There is a belief that they are relatives of anteaters or armadillos. They are much more closely related to the African elephant.

Aardvarks are unique in African wildlife as they are the last remaining members of their species. They are considered important members of the animal kingdom. There are 18 species of aardvark all over the world, living in the wild as well as in captivity. This wondrous animal is the last of its genus and must be protected.

Interesting facts about the aardvark's mouth

Aardvarks have a long, sticky tongue that looks like a worm and can grow about 11.8 in (30 cm). They use this to catch termites in and out of their mounds and sucks them in. It has cheek teeth which are used only in the case of big ants or other large-sized insects. They have a long snout mouth and a shorter neck. This helps them move around while digging and also lets them eat more insects.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these striped skunk facts and two-toed sloth facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable aardvark coloring pages.

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