What Is An Aardvark?
The aardvark is an African mammal with a bulky body that is 6 feet long including its 2 foot tail. Learn all about the aardvark.
The aardvark is an African mammal with a bulky body that is 6 feet long including its 2 foot tail. It stands about 2 feet high at the shoulder and has a tough grey skin that is sparsly covered with hair. This makes it aften appear naked except for the areas on its legs and hind quarters. The aardvark has a long and narrow head with donkey-like ears. The snout on this animal appears round and pig-like with a small mouth. The nose is guarded by a fringe of bristles and the nostrils can be closed as a protection from termites. It is at home in African scrub with a termite nest close by so it can feed on theses soft bodied insects.
Aardvarks have powerful limbs and sharp claws so they can burrow into the earth at high speeds. If disturbed while away from its accustom burrow it will protect itself by burrowing with a recorded speed that is said to be faster than ten men digging with spades. While digging this animal will rest on its hind legs and tail while pushing the soil back under its body and dispersing of the dirt with its hind legs. Burrows are usually occupied by one aardvark and are 3 to 4 yards long with a sleeping chamber at the end that is big enough to allow the animal to turn around. Each aardvark will have several burrows with some of them miles apart. Though this animal is found throughout Africa, years can be spent without seeing one. The aardvark is secretive and nocturnal making it difficult for one to learn its habits.
The principal food of the aardvark is termites which it collects after ripping through the wall of the nest with its powerful claws. This is considered quite a feat since the walls of termite nest are difficult for a man to break even with a pick. As the animal tears into the termite nest the insects swarm onto its slender tongue which has been inserted into the nest. The aardvark will also seek out termites in rotten wood or while they are on the march. This animal is also known to eat other soft bodied insects and some fruit, but its system is not made to deal with true ants.
The aardvarks young are born singly on most occasions around midsummer. It will emerge from the mother's burrow about two weeks after birth to accompany her on feeding trips and follows her from burrow to burrow for the next few months. At six months old it is able to dig its own food. The aardvark's main enemies are man, hunting dogs, pythons, lions, cheetahs, honey badgers and leopards. Wart hogs are known to eat the young but pose no threat to adults. When an aardvark is suspicious of trouble it will sit up in a kangaroo like fashion to better detect the danger. When the danger is close it runs to its burrow or digs a new one. Once this animal is cornered it will fight back by striking with its tail and feet. It will even roll on its back to strike at its enemy with all four feet.
Remarkably, zoologists have had a difficult time in finding a place in the scientific classification of these animals. At first it was classified with armadillos and sloths simply because it lacks front teeth. Today it is placed by itself in the order Tubulidentata and is so called because of the fine tubes radiating through each tooth. The aardvark's teeth have no roots or enamel. Strangely, although fossil aardvarks have been found in North America, Asia, Europe and Africa, they have given no real clues to this animal's ancestry or its connections with other animals.