The Aardvark

The aardvark is native to which continent?

And the answer: Africa.  

Photo credit: NatureTravelAfrica.com

With a name that means "earth pig" in the Afrikaans language, aardvarks are mammals that live throughout sub-Saharan Africa. As nocturnal animals, they spend the hot African days in their underground burrows, and come out in the evening to hunt for termites. Despite their appearance, they're not related to anteaters.

While they might look like a pig, have the ears of a donkey, and dig with the claws of a bear, aardvarks aren't related to any such animals. Instead, these nocturnal animals use their unique evolutionary abilities to search for their favorite snack: termites. Sometimes traveling miles in a single night, aardvarks are equipped with powerful, twelve-inch long tongues that allow them to pluck out insects from mounds of dirt or sand. Aardvarks can also close their nostrils to prevent dust or other debris from entering their airways as they dig with powerful claws.

Aardvarks actually belong to the same group of mammals as the African elephant. However, the similarities end there. Aardvarks have uneven front and back legs (the hind legs are longer than the front ones), an elongated pig-like nose and a muscular tail. These grassland creatures can grow up to 5 feet long and 24 inches tall.

Did you know?

Thanks to the powerful digging capabilities of their claws, aardvarks can dig up to 2 feet deep in less than 15 seconds! Typically, this helps aardvarks dig their characteristic burrows, which need to be around 30-40 feet in length.


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