Sunday, February 7, 2010

Aardvark - Orycteropus afer

Image Credit: Unknown
From Wiki: The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal native to Africa.

The name comes from the Afrikaans/Dutch for "earth pig" (aarde earth, varken pig), because early settlers from Europe thought it resembled a domesticated pig. However, the aardvark is not closely related to the pig ... The closest living relatives of the aardvark are the elephant shrews, along with the sirenians, hyraxes, tenrecs and elephants.

The aardvark is nocturnal and is a solitary creature that feeds almost exclusively on ants and termites; the only fruit eaten by aardvarks is the aardvark cucumber.

An aardvark emerges from its burrow in the late afternoon or shortly after sunset, and forages over a considerable home range encompassing 10 to 30 kilometers, swinging its long nose from side to side to pick up the scent of food.

When a concentration of ants or termites is detected, the aardvark digs into it with its powerful front legs, keeping its long ears upright to listen for predators, and takes up an astonishing number of insects with its long, sticky tongue - as many as 50,000 in one night have been recorded.

Image Credit: Detroit Zoo
This image of a new-born Aardvark, named 'Amani' (Swahili for "peace"), reminded that I've never seen one of these shy, elusive creatures in the wild.

I've seen hundreds of holes they've dug in their search for termites though; I took this pic of a freshly-dug hole in November - you can see the creature's footprints and tail-drag marks in the sand:

OneStonedCrow Pic
A local name for the Aardvark is "Anamanama" (Ah-nah-mah-nah-mah) and here's the kind of image I'd like to capture someday:

Image Credit: Beverly Joubert



  1. In my experience I think they are rarely out before it is properly dark. I am sure that kind of thing varies from location to location, and I have only seen a few of them anyway.

  2. Thanks for your visit and comment NN ... I appreciate it and hope you'll make many more comments in the future ...

  3. I recall a children's picture alphabet learner where A was for Aardvark... wish I could remember the rest!

    If nocturnal, how come the NG image is so good? A captive mut?

  4. yeah, possibly ... or else she tried for years to get the pic, or was lucky ...

  5. at times I think I could be nocturnal.

    RE: that comment problem
    I found this page that may have some info.

  6. Thanks lisleman - the problem seems to have sorted itself out ...