Vernacular Name: Aardvark
Scientific Name: Orycteropus afer
Class: Mammalia Order: Tubulidentata Family: Orcycteropidae
Geographic Range: Central through southern Africa
Habitat: Open woodland, grassland and scrub areas of Africa and the Sahara.
Physical Characteristics: Body and head length 3 to 4 ft., tail 1 1/2 ft. Weight 90-145 lbs. Pig-shaped body is muscular having short powerful legs and feet ending with long spoon-shaped, sharp-edged claws. The front feet have four claws and the back have five. The tail is powerful, thick and hairless. An elongated, flexible snout is protected from dust and dirt by a fringe of rough bristles. Tongue is long (1 1/2 ft.), thin and sticky. Elongated head is topped by extra large ears which fold down. The almost hairless skin is yellowish gray in color but often darkly stained by the soil pigments encountered while digging for food. Dentition consists of toothless molars which grow throughout their life.
Adaptations: Terrestrial, solitary, nocturnal, large eyes with retina containing only cones. Nostrils close up when the aardvark burrows, providing protection from dust, dirt, and attacks by ants or termites. Powerful claws for digging into ground or termite nests. Acute sense of smell and hearing.
Ecological Niche: Nocturnal. Secondary consumer, primary consumer, seed disperser for aardvark cucumber, soil aerator, provides habitats for other species via burrowing activities. Burrows have several entrances and may be up to
40 ft. in length.
Reproduction: Male late fall and winter, gestation 7 months, usually one offspring. Births occur during rainy season when food is plentiful. Mother and young form family unit until maturity. Females remain near mother, males leave area.
Predator/Prey: Lions, leopards, hunting dogs.
Conservation: II, Protected species.
Other Information: Aardvark has no known relatives. Does not completely destroy termite/ant nest, but returns to feed several times then abandons the nest allowing it to rebuild and increase population. When insects are scarce they will eat soft-bodied insects and fruit. They have more olfactory lobes, nine total, than any other mammal.
Zoo Diet: Cooked feline diet, dog food, eggs, K-Sol vitamin supplement blended with warm water into gruel.