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Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Orycteropus afer


The Aardvark is a species of insectivore known by the scientific name Orycteropus afer . The species is the only surviving member of the taxonomic order Tubulidentata. They are vaguely pig-like with an awkward body and arched back. They have a greatly elongated head that is set on their short, thick neck. Their front feet do not have "thumbs", which results in them only having four toes in the front. The back legs however, have all five toes. Their tail is incredibly thick, but gradually tapers toward the end of it.

Body Design

The body design of the aardvark is quite different from many animals. When looking at the aardvark, it is easy to distinguish the most prominent feature, which is its very long snout. It is used to sniff out ants and termites. It is the largest of a group of animals that live off of insects only. The aardvark has an awkward body with an incredibly arched back. Its back is arched because of its longer back legs than fore limbs. The nails on their feet are strong and thick and shaped like shovels which enables them to dig into anthills well. The natural color of its fur is like a yellow grey color, but often stained brown because of them constantly digging into anthills and soil. Their tail is very thick and tapers toward the tip of it.

The aardvark is between 1 and 1.3 meters long. If you added the tail it would be an extra 70 centimeters. When you measure them from their shoulders down, they are about 60 centimeters. They weigh about as much as the average human being does, 170 pounds. The Aardvark has a gestation period of seven month. They have been known to live up to 23 years. Predators of Africa are all predators to the Aardvark. They are mainly wild dogs and cats of the savannahs; including lions and leopards.

The skeleton of an Aardvark.

Life Cycle

The Aardvark has a gestation period of seven months. Aardvards only pair up during mating season. When its colder during between May and July, one cub is born. The baby normally weighs between 1 to 2 pounds. When the baby aardvark is born, it is bald and wrinkly. Their hair will usually grow after 5 or 6 weeks, and their ears will perk up after only 2 weeks.

The cub would be able to eat things other than only breast milk at about 3 months old. It will be able to dig and burrow things after 6 months. They normally stay with their mothers until the next mating season. Their sexual maturity age is at around 2 years. In captivity, aardvarks have been known to live for about 23 years.



The aardvark is a nocturnal feeder that has a diet that consists of only ants and termites. The tip of its snout is mobile and sensitive which is primary designed to enable them to sniff insects out. They have a long, sticky, tubular tongue that snatches the insects into their mouth quickly. It is able to eat tens of thousands of insects in just one night.

The best feeding opportunities for the aardvark is when it occupies the savannahs, grasslands, woodlands, and very dense shrubbery in Africa. When it is hot in the day time, they would usually be found hiding in their cool burrows. They will not be found in waterlogged areas, as they do not contain as many ants and termites. The aardvark can be found normally all around Africa, south of the Sahara Desert. Their natural distribution can extend from Ethiopia all the way to South Africa. But they are not found in coastal regions of Madagascar, Ghana, Namibia, or the Ivory Coast.

When aardvarks are looking for food, they search in a zig-zag type pattern, that only repeats the same area every five to eight days-much like ants. They normally hide in their burrows when bad weather comes along. It is a quiet animal, but they sometimes make soft, grunting type noises when it searches for food. When the aardvark feels like it is being threatened, it will bleat and return quickly to its mother. The aardvark is also is an accomplished swimmer, which is very beneficial when it is traveling.


Aardvark vs. Anteater

The aardvark may look incredibly similar to the anteater, but they have many differences. They are actually two different species. The anteater is a mammal of the suborder Vermilingua. The anteater is also known as the anthil bear. Very big anteaters can sometimes be mistaken as bears because of their long claws and bushy tails. The aardvark is a mammal that is found primarily in Africa. Aardvarks sleep throughout the day, and are active at night. Which means they are nocturnal. If nights are cold for a long period of time, they may sometimes come out into the sun during the daytime to get heat and warmth. They use their keen sense of smell to search for their main food source, ants and termites.

The aardvark can weight anywhere from 90 pounds, to 150 pounds. Whereas the anteater weighs about 50 pounds, to 90 pounds. They both live about 25 years total. The anteater lives on the ground, whereas the aardvark lives below the ground in burrows. Anteaters are toothless, whereas Aardvarks have long, cylindrical teeth used throughout its lifetime. Aardvarks are nocturnal animals, whereas anteaters are Diurnal. Both the aardvark and the anteater are in the same Phylum, Kingdom, and Class. They both are about 1 meter long.


Animals of the World - The Aardvark


  1. . Orycteropus afer Wiki Species. Web. Last Updated 27 July 2014 . Author Unknown