Fun Aardwolf Facts For Kids

Oluniyi Akande
Feb 07, 2023 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
One of the most fascinating aardwolf facts is that it can eat over 200,000 termites in one night with its long sticky tongue.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.9 Min

The aardwolf (Proteles cristata) is an insectivorous mammal species that resembles a thin striped hyena. The aardwolf has black vertical stripes over a yellowish coat of fur and a bushy tail.

'Aardwolf' means 'earth wolf' in Afrikaans and Dutch. Also known as the civet hyena, maanhaar-jackal and termite-eating hyena, the aardwolf belongs to the hyena family. The aardwolf is native to East and South Africa.

The front feet of an aardwolf have five toes each. Owing to its long and sticky tongue, the aardwolf can eat over 20,000 termites in one night.

Other than termites, the aardwolf likes eating insects and the larvae of insects, using its long sticky tongue. The aardwolf is a nocturnal animal that comes out at night for eating food. During daytime, you’ll find these shy animals sleeping in underground burrows.

If you like this article on aardwolf facts for kids, then you will also enjoy reading interesting facts about the spotted hyena and Indian wolf.

Aardwolf Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an aardwolf?

Aardwolf in Afrikaans means 'earth wolf;. An aardwolf is a P. cristata species, belonging to the hyena family (Hynaenidae).

What class of animal does an aardwolf belongs to?

The aardwolf is a termite-eating insectivorous mammal that belongs to the Mammalia class.

How many aardwolves are there in the world?

The aardwolf (Proteles cristata) is spread across two different populations in East and South Africa. As far as the number of this species is concerned, this mammal is quite widespread throughout eastern Africa.

Where does an aardwolf live?

The aardwolf (Proteles cristata) lives in open and dry land areas and dens that are covered with shrubs and bushes. The aardwolf does not like to live in mountainous regions.

What is an aardwolf's habitat?

The two distinctive populations of the aardwolf can be found in its native habitats that are spread across southern Africa and east and northern Africa. The aardwolf habitat comprises dry and open plains and dens covered with shrubs.

Most importantly, the aardwolf habitat must have the presence of the Hodotermitidae termite family, owing to the food needs of this mammal. These termites can be found in savannahs, grazed grasslands, and farmlands meaning aardwolves mark their territory in these regions every season of the year.

Who do aardwolves live with?

The aardwolf (Proteles cristata) lives in shared territories. An adult pair of aardwolves and their youngest offspring or cubs lives in a territory that spreads across 0.6-2.5 mi (1-4 km).

How long does an aardwolf live?

The aardwolf (Proteles cristatus) can live up to eight to 10 years. In captivity, the aardwolf can live up to 15 years.

How do they reproduce?

The aardwolf (Proteles cristatus) is a monogamous animal. Usually, aardwolves form pairs, although, some males of this species mate with more than one female.  The mating season for Proteles cristata males and females is throughout the year. The gestation period of aardwolves lasts for 90-100 days and two to four cubs are produced.

What is their conservation status?

As per the IUCN, the conservation status of the aardwolf (Proteles cristatus) comes under the Least Concern category. The Proteles cristatus population is quite widespread across East and southern Africa, showing no signs of decline in its numbers.

Aardwolf Fun Facts

What do aardwolves look like?

Although related to cats, hyenas are similar to dogs in terms of appearance. This species of hyena has a short torso and a downward sloping back. It has high forelegs, short hind legs, and a short but thick neck.

The facial potion of a hyena is relatively small with large ears. Apart from the spotted hyena, most hyenas have black stripes coats. Hyena teeth and skull are similar to aardwolf teeth and skull.

Aardwolf Facts

How cute are they?

Despite being most popular for their savage scavenging habits, species of hyenas are also known for their cuteness quotient. Baby hyenas and cubs of aardwolves are particularly charming and adorable.

How do they communicate?

Hyenas communicate with each other through growling, whooping, grunting, yelping, and whining. Many scientists believe that hyenas use a peculiar laughing language to communicate with each other.

Nevertheless, this laughing language is a serious business as hyenas tend to use this laughing language around their kills. A hyena communicates with other hyenas by smearing a paste-like secretion on grasslands. This secretion comes from a small gland that is situated beneath the tail of a hyena.

How big is an aardwolf?

The aardwolf is approximately 22–31 in (55.8-78.7 cm) long and 16–20 in (40.6-50.8 cm) tall, making it the smallest member of the hyena family.

How fast can an aardwolf run?

In summer season, an aardwolf can cover 5-7.5 mi (8–12 km) per night, and in winters it can cover 1.9-5 mi (3–8 km) per night.

How much does an aardwolf weigh?

An aardwolf can weigh around 15–22 lb (6.8–10 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no separate male and female names for the aardwolf species.

What would you call a baby aardwolf?

A baby aardwolf is called a cub, whelp, or pup.

What do they eat?

Aardwolves are insectivorous animals which means that their main food and diet includes termites. Other than termites, aardwolves also like eating insects, worms, larvae, and eggs. A small percentage of the Proteles cristata diet includes birds and small mammals.

Aardwolves have quite a long and sticky tongue that allows them to eat as many as 3,00,000 termites in a single night. Aardwolf teeth, especially cheek teeth make it an expert in eating insects. The aardwolf uses its teeth mainly for defense.

Are they aggressive?

Aardwolves are particularly known for their shy and reclusive temperament. Proteles cristata are nocturnal animals that are particularly active during the night time.

In the daytime, you will find these animals sleeping in underground burrows. It is only at night that an aardwolf comes out to seek food. In rare aggressive episodes, you will see this animal roar, growl, or raise its mane.

Aardwolves tend to confuse their predators by hunting backwards. Despite being slow runners, aardwolves are able to get away from their predators by emitting a foul smell from their glands.

Would they make a good pet?

Despite being a shy animal, an aardwolf is not suited to be kept as a pet. Both the spotted and striped hyena species are powerful predators.

When it is a matter of food scarcity or a possible attack, hyenas will not stay away from attacking an adult human as well. Keeping in mind the attacking abilities of hyena, you must not keep a Proteles cristatus or aardwolf pet.

Did you know...

Some African cultures hold a belief that hyenas have magical powers. There are also many African regions where hyenas are considered as pests, owing to their habit of attacking livestock.

You can also find a species of brown hyena in African zoos. Another fascinating fact about hyenas and aardwolves in Africa is the fact that a lot of people leave garbage out for them to eat. Nevertheless, aardwolves can be considered quite useful to humans for helping them get rid of termites.

What does aardwolf mean?

Aardwolf means 'earth wolf' in Afrikaans as well as Dutch. Aardwolves are also known as maanhaar-jackal, termite-eating hyena, and civet hyena. It is is known as civet hyena as it secretes substances from its anal gland just like the African civet.

What is the difference between aardwolves vs. hyenas?

An aardwolf not only resembles a striped hyena, but is also related to the hyena family. Hyenas and aardwolves share certain common characteristics such as a sloping back, bushy tail, as well as habit of secreting substances from anal glands to mark territories.

Both hyenas and aardwolves live in open lands, dens, and underground burrows. However, aardwolves are solitary animals, while spotted hyenas live in clans.

Aardwolves breed all year around, while the brown hyena breeding season only lasts a few months of the year. In some cases, the aardwolf may tend to breed only a few seasons of the year.

As far as eating habits are concerned, striped and brown hyenas are scavengers that like to feed upon the leftover hunts of other animals in the area. The diet of a hyena includes hares, reptiles, rodents as well as certain fruits and vegetables.

Aardwolves on the other hand mostly feed on termites and certain insects.

The aardwolf mainly likes to feed on the Trinervitermes termites that are found across East and southern Africa which is also the native habitat of the Proteles cristatus. While eating termites, the Proteles cristatus does not destroy the complete mound of termite in order to ensure constant supply of food over time.

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 brown hyena facts and amur leopard facts for kids.

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

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

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Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

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Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

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