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Aardvarks: Learn Some Facts About These Peculiar-Looking Animals

Learning about the fellow creatures that share the planet with us is always of interest to me.

A pair of Aardvarks

A pair of Aardvarks

Some Facts about Aardvarks

Humans rarely get to see aardvarks. That is because they are nocturnal animals that sleep in burrows during the day. They are found in Africa below the more northern regions of the Sahara Desert.

Aardvarks are unusual looking animals that appear as if they have been assembled by a child playing with different animal parts.

  • They have a tail resembling a kangaroo and ears that look similar to a rabbit.
  • They have feet that appear like those found on ducks except for the fierce-looking bear-like claws.
  • Their bodies are somewhat pig-like in appearance except for an elongated face that does sport a snout like those on our equine friends.
  • Did I mention the thin tongue that can extend out to a foot or foot and a half? A peculiar-looking creature, to be sure!
Aardvarks at Detroit Zoo

Aardvarks at Detroit Zoo

What do Aardvarks Eat?

Ants and termites are their preference, and those account for the majority of their diet, although they are omnivorous. When foraging, during only one night, they can eat up to 50,000 insects or more! The insects are then broken down in an aardvark's stomach.

They have a terrific sense of smell and can easily find those soft-bodied insects and fill their stomachs with thousands of them at one time, using their long sticky tongues to scoop them up en masse.

When disturbing a termite mound or ant nest their thick hide helps to protect them from insect bites.

Photo of an Aardvark Skull

View of teeth in an aardvark skull

View of teeth in an aardvark skull

How Long Have Aardvarks Existed?

About five million years is the answer, give or take! Many other species have appeared, and others have become extinct in that time frame. In a zoo setting, these animals commonly live an average of around 23 years.

How long aardvarks will survive on earth is undetermined. While not yet considered endangered, their main threat, at this point, seems to be the loss of natural habitat where man is encroaching as human populations keep growing.

Look at those aardvark cuties!

Look at those aardvark cuties!

What are Their Defenses and Who Preys Upon Aardvarks?

Large cats like lions and leopards or even hyenas or wild dogs can occasionally take down an aardvark. With their keen hearing ability, this does not often happen. That is because those sharp claws can dig a burrow in mere seconds for a retreat.

If they have to stand their ground, they can use their tail as a club. When flipping over on their back, those threatening claws can ward off most opponents. The thick skin of an aardvark also helps to protect it.

Some humans also prey upon these animals hunting them for their meat source as well as some of their body parts, considered to be charms warding off illnesses.

Master Builders!

The burrows or tunnels they excavate are quite large as an average aardvark can weigh up to 150 pounds or more and stands about 2 feet at the shoulders.

Those temporary shelters can be between 3 to 4 feet long, but the ones that they dig for breeding purposes can be more than 40 feet with several entrances.

Since aardvarks are somewhat nomadic, those burrows are often utilized by other animals for shelter after being abandoned by an aardvark. So they are home builders of sorts.

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Aardvarks are occasionally called earth pigs, as well as other names like African ant bear.

A female usually bears only one offspring at a time and continues to nurture it up to the time that it can take care of itself in the wild.

A young aardvark can dig burrows for itself by the time is is six months of age and is adult sized by the end of a year. They reach sexual maturity at or around the age of two.

Does this give you something to discuss around the office water cooler or at your dinner table tonight? (Smile)

Recent genetic studies (increasingly supported by morphological and palaeontological studies) have suggested that aardvarks are closely related to the dassies (hyraxes), elephants (proboscideans), golden-moles (chrysoclorids), manatees and dugongs (sirenians), tenrecs, and more closely the elephant shrews (macroscelids)

— Aardvark



This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 26, 2019:

Hi Patricia,

Aardvarks are certainly interesting creatures. The planet is filled with many such creatures, and we are the beneficiaries. Sending angels your way today.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 25, 2019:

I just couldn't resist coming back. These creatures are pretty remarkable as are so many wonders of nature. Sending Angels your way this evening ps

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 22, 2019:

Hi Dale,

I seriously doubt that these wild aardvarks would make a good pet, but I agree that they are interesting-looking animals.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on September 20, 2019:

I am not embarrassed to admit that I think aardvarks are actually pretty interesting looking fellas and I would have one as a pet.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 27, 2019:

We have also had to treat our home for termites. I guess that is the price of living in a warm, humid climate. Aardvarks certainly can eat a lot of termites at one time!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on April 25, 2019:

I've always liked aardvarks because of how lovably cute they look. I wish we'd had one when we had our termite problem.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 05, 2018:

Hi Rajan,

I would agree that aardvarks are interesting as well as unusual looking creatures. Glad you liked reading about them.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on September 05, 2018:

Aardvarks certainly are queer to look at and are quite heavy for an animal about 2 feet tall. Very interesting information

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 08, 2018:

Hi Patricia,

Like you those cartoons were my first introduction to aardvarks. Fun to look back at those cartoons. Thanks for the wishes of angels. Hope you and your family are being surrounded by them today.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 08, 2018:

Such unusual looking creatures....and been around millions of guess my first interest in them was via the Pink Panther cartoons believe it or not...there was a cartoon about an aardvark and an is a clip to them Sending Angels your way my friend. ps

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 09, 2018:

Hi C E Clark,

Yes aardvarks and anteaters are definitely two different types of animals. Thanks for your comment.

C E Clark from North Texas on June 09, 2018:

I've discovered that some people get aardvarks and anteaters mixed up, thinking they're the same animal. They aren't, of course. An anteater's snout seems more like an elephant's trunk to me in the photos I've seen. Both are very interesting animals. Enjoyed reading about the aardvark again.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 29, 2017:

Hi Patricia,

I remember the cartoon with the Aardvark and the Ant. It is cute as most of those Pink Panther ones were. Thanks!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 29, 2017:

This little guy (and not always so little) is quite an interesting creature. I have been fascinated by them for many years... They have been well equipped to survive in the wild. I have to tell you that my interest in them was brought on by a cartoon...yes...a cartoon. On the Pink Panther cartoon series there was a cartoon that was titled, I believe, The Aardvark and the Ant and it was so cute.. I hope you can view hyperlink capacity has failed. Angels are on the way Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 28, 2017:

Hi Roberta,

Sorry to hear that your area is overrun by ants. Good luck on acquiring an aardvark to do the job. Ha Ha! I guess you had best rely upon other methods to combat the ants.

RTalloni on November 27, 2017:

I've always thought these creatures were so ugly they were cute, and now I want a few as our area is overrun by a variety of ants. Thanks for a neat look at a well-designed work horse (even though they sort of look a bit scary).

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 29, 2016:

Hi Patricia,

That video you included in your comment was a cute one. I used to enjoy cartoons like that when I was young. Sending good thoughts and prayers your way!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 26, 2016:

These are amazing creatures...they have always fascinated me...just the name sparked curiosity. I also liked to watch the 'Aardvark and the Ant' when I was much younger and reviewing it now remember why.

Here's a little peek.

Angels are on the way this morning ps

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 08, 2016:

Hi Kristen,

I highly doubt that you will run across any aardvarks in your path unless they escape from some zoo. Haha! Glad you enjoyed learning about them.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 08, 2016:

Hi Shyron,

I don't think you left anything out in describing an aardvark. Ha! Enjoyed your comment. :)

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 08, 2016:

Peggy, aardvarks are fascinating and unique animals. Real interesting to learn all about them with those facts that you shared with us. I never saw one in person and wouldn't want to come across one in my path. Thanks for this hub!

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on April 08, 2016:

Peggy, this is an amazing animal, we need them in Texas to get the fire ants. So these animals are a combination of Anteater tongue, Pig body and snout, Duck feet with Mole claws, Rabbit ears and a Kangaroo tail. Did I leave anything out?

I did enjoyed the read.

I hope all is well with you.

Blessings and Hugs always.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 07, 2016:

Hi Bill,

I agree with you that aardvarks are certainly unique creatures. Appreciate your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2016:

Hi Au fait,

Yes, all is well here. Thanks! Nice to know that you enjoyed this article.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on April 04, 2016:

How interesting. What a unique creature. I never realized how big they are and they sure can eat a lot of ants and termites. Thanks for the education.

C E Clark from North Texas on April 04, 2016:

An interesting animal to be sure! Great videos and well done. Sharing.

Hope all is well with you Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 24, 2016:

Hi Frank,

Like you, I also learned more about aardvarks when writing this. They are amazing creatures.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on March 23, 2016:

I learned a great deal about these funny looking, but amazing critters.. thank you for sharing :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 21, 2016:

Hi Alicia,

I will agree with you that aardvarks look a bit different. :))

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 21, 2016:

Aardvarks look so strange! Thanks for sharing this informative and interesting hub about them. It's fun to learn about these animals.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 21, 2016:

Hello emge,

So glad you found this hub to your liking. Thanks for your comment.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on March 20, 2016:

Hi Peggy, this is a nice post. Voted up

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 20, 2016:

Hi Jackie,

Sorry to hear that you are having an ant problem. We sometimes get 2 liter bottles of soda at our grocery store with "meal deals." Buy one product and get others for free. We do not drink soda but it makes an excellent ant killer if poured on a mound. If not giving the soda away to others who drink it, we use it in that manner in our yard. As to getting an aardvark to do that job...unlikely! :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 20, 2016:

Hi Rachel,

Wishing you Easter blessings as well. Glad you enjoyed this hub about aardvarks.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on March 20, 2016:

So interesting, Peggy and I loved seeing them sacked out. Guess all animals are sweet sleeping! I could sure feed one. Ants are driving me crazy and nothing completely wipes them out. Thankfully they are small but Id sure like to have an ant eater!


Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on March 20, 2016:

Hi Peggy, Aardvarks are strange looking indeed. lol I never realized before just what they looked like. I'm glad they are able to get away from their predators quickly enough. Thanks for sharing the information of this interesting anima.

Easter Blessings to you.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 19, 2016:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

The only ones I am likely to ever see will also be in zoos. Glad you liked learning about them.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 19, 2016:

Wow! These are some fun and amazing facts, from the tongue to the tail to the claws. I don't want to run into one except at a zoo or online. Great hub!

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