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Temporal range: Early Pliocene – Recent
Porc formiguer.JPG
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Tubulidentata
Family: Orycteropodidae
Genus: Orycteropus
O. afer
Binomial name
Orycteropus afer
(Pallas, 1766)

See text

Map of Africa showing a highlighted range (in green) covering most of the continent south of the Sahara desert
Aardvark range

The aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a mammal from Africa; its name means "earth pig" in the language Afrikaans. It is the only living member in its order, though some fossil genera have been found

Taxonomy[change | change source]

  • Order Tubulidentata
    • Family Orycteropodidae
      • Genus Orycteropus
        • Species Orycteropus afer

The Aardvark looks a bit like the South American anteaters but they are not related. It is in a proposed clade Afroinsectiphilia, with the golden moles and tenrecs. Another proposal is to out it in the Pseudungulata, with the elephants and Sirenia. There is no consensus at present.

Description[change | change source]

Adult aardvarks weighs about 60 kilograms (130 pounds) and a little more than one meter (45 inches) long. It is the largest member of the proposed clade Afroinsectiphilia. The aardvark is pale yellowish-gray in color and often stained reddish-brown by soil. The aardvark's fur is thin. Its hair is short on its head and tail. But, its legs tend to have longer hair.[2]

Distribution and Habitat[change | change source]

Aardvarks are found in sub-Saharan Africa.[3] They are found in every country in sub-Saharan Africa except Namibia, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Madagascar.[4] It lives in many habitats like savannas, grasslands, woodlands and bushland. They have been seen as high as 3,200 metres (10,500 ft) in Ethiopia.[3]

Feeding[change | change source]

Aardvarks eat mostly ants and termites. They have a long sticky tongue which makes it easy to pick up many ants at once. The only fruit that aardvarks eat is the aardvark cucumber.[5] They avoid eating the African driver ant and red ants.[5]

Behaviour[change | change source]

Aardvarks are nocturnal, which means they are awake at night and asleep during the day. The aardvark is a good swimmer. It can dig a tunnel that is one yard in about five minutes.[5] Aardvarks live for up to 23 years in captivity.[5] It has many predators such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, African wild dogs, hyenas, and pythons.[6][5] Some humans also hunt aardvarks for meat.[6] Aardvarks can dig fast or run in a zigzag to confuse predators. If all else fails they will attack with their claws.[5]

Reproduction[change | change source]

Aardvarks only come together to breed. The gestation period is seven months.[2] They give birth to one cub, which is what a baby aardvark is called. The cub weighs around 1.7–1.9 kilograms (3.7–4.2 lb).[5] It is born during May–July.[6] After 5–6 weeks, hair starts growing on its body. After two weeks, it is able to leave the burrow to follow its mother. After 9 weeks, it is able to eat termites. It is weaned between three months and 16 weeks.[5] At six months, it is able to dig its own burrows, but it will often stay with the mother until the next mating season.[2] It reaches sexual maturity when it is two years old.[5]

References[change | change source]

  1. Lindsey et al. 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Encyclopedia of mammals. Macdonald, David W. (David Whyte). New York, NY: Facts on File. 1984. ISBN 0-87196-871-1. OCLC 10403800.CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "This insect-eater belongs to the same group of mammals as the elephant". African Wildlife Foundation. Retrieved 2020-09-21.
  4. Authority), Andrew Taylor (IUCN SSC Afrotheria Red List; Thomas Lehmann (Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt, Germany) (2014-01-21). "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Orycteropus afer". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 2020-09-21.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Grzimek's encyclopedia of mammals. Grzimek, Bernhard. (English language ed ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company. 1990. ISBN 0-07-909508-9. OCLC 20014856. |edition= has extra text (help)CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Collier's encyclopedia. 24 vols. [Place of publication not identified]: Collier's. 1997. ISBN 1-57161-093-6. OCLC 656144659.