The aardvark gets its name from a South African word meaning “earth pig.” Although the aardvark looks like a pig, especially with its body and snout, aardvarks actually share common ancestors with elephants and golden moles. Aardvarks live throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa. Aardvarks use their large front claws to dig holes at a rate of 2 feet (0.6 meters) in 15 seconds so they can quickly get to their favorite meal: termites and ants. Aardvarks have long, sticky tongues, which can be up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) long. Each night, they are able to dig up termite mounds and ant nests and slurp up and swallow tens of thousands of insects. Aardvarks are most active at night and tend to live alone. During the day, they sleep curled up in a ball in their burrows. As night falls, aardvarks will emerge cautiously from their dens, jumping around on the lookout for predators. They are able to see at night, but otherwise have poor vision and are color-blind. They rely on their senses of sound and smell, using their long ears and snouts to get around and find insects.
Keywords to learn
Sub-Saharan Africa: Of, relating to, or being the part of Africa south of the Sahara
Hey Kids, my name is Andy the Aardvark and I am very happy to meet you. Learn more about me and my species @ www.kids.nationalgeographic.com
- Lifespan:23 years.
- Scientific Name:Orycteropus afer.
- Mass:110 to 180 pounds.
- Length:Head and body: 43 to 53 inches; tail: 21 to 26 inches.
- Region found:sub-Saharan Africa.
- Population Status:Not evaluated.
- Current population trend:Unknown.
- Sexual maturity:2 years.
The Aardvark gets its name from a South African word meaning “earth pig.” Although the aardvark looks like a pig, especially with its body and snout, aardvarks actually share common ancestors with elephants and golden moles.
Now that you know more about the Aardvark by learning the key data above, be sure also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
Download questions about how the Aardvark here: Aardvark (answers are on this page)
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Aardvark Fun Facts for Kids
- # 1. Female aardvarks give birth in their burrow usually to one baby at a time.
- # 2. A baby aardvark stays in the burrow for two weeks and then begins to venture out to forage at night with its mom.
- # 3. Baby aardvarks begin digging for their own meals when they reach six months and they grow to full size in about one year.
- # 4. The aardvark’s fast digging skill also helps protect it from predators, such as hyenas and lions. When threatened, an aardvark can dig a hole and cover itself up in about ten minutes. Its large claws are another layer of defense.
- # 5. Though aardvarks remain widespread, humans are the aardvark’s biggest threat. Some landowners don’t like the holes that aardvarks leave behind and kill the aardvarks. The use of pesticides to grow crops on land inhabited by aardvarks has also reduced the number of insects available for aardvarks to eat.
- # 1. What does ‘aardvark’ mean in south Africa?
- # 2. Where can aardvarks be found?
- # 3. What is the primary food source of the aardvark?
- # 4. What age do aardvarks live to?
- # 5. What age do aardvarks sexually mature?