The aardvark is nocturnal, which means that it sleeps all day and only comes out at night. It also has ears like a rabbit, the nose of a piglet and the tail of a kangaroo.
Have a look at the first page of the English dictionary and the first word you’ll see is aardvark – and it’s not even an English word. It’s actually Afrikaans and literally means earth pig. This is because aardvarks spend most of their time underground sleeping or tunnelling for food.
Aardvarks are shy animals, and are hard to spot because their preferred foraging time is between 9pm and 3am while most people are sleeping.
Aardvarks have bad eyesight, but their noses and ears are amazing for sniffing out food and listening for predators. Aardvarks mainly eat ants and termites. They do this by using their powerful front claws to burrow into anthills and catch ants on their long sticky tongue. They can eat up to 50 000 ants in one night.
The ants are understandably not happy about this and try to bite back, but the Aardvark has very thick skin and doesn’t feel a thing.
Because of their ant-heavy diet, aardvarks don’t have much need for teeth, and only have molars right at the back of their jaws that they use for the occasional grasshopper or beetle snack.
Unlike humans, these teeth are not coated in enamel, but in a kind of dental cement.
Aardvarks also have special slit-like nostrils that stop sand going up their noses while they dig.
In the Kruger National Park, aardvarks can sometimes be seen near the Pafuri Picnic Spot – but only if you’re really quiet.
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