Aardvark / Antbear (Orycteropus afer)

Aardvark / Antbear (Orycteropus afer) Silhouette

Quick stats of the Aardvark / Antbear

  • Diet: - Omnivore
  • Overall Length: - 1.6m
  • Weight: - Male - 63 kg
  • Weight: - Female - 61 kg
  • Lifespan - 11 years

Description

Aardvark / Antbear (Orycteropus afer) © A Barnett-Harris

Aardvark or Antbears are widely distributed around Africa. They are not found around equatorial forest and northern desert regions. It is very adaptable and can be found in a habitat where the soil is loose and where there is sufficient ants or termites, which is its principle diet.

Termites are eaten predominately in the rainy season and ants during the dry season. As soon as a colony (ant or termite) has been found, it uses its long sticky tongue to eat the insects, eggs and larvae. The Antbear's teeth are poorly developed so it will only eat insects and soft fruits.

The Antbear has a unique silhouette and is easily recognisable with its long pig-like snout, tubular ears, thick tale and powerful stout legs. Its grey-yellow to fawn-grey colour skin is almost bare and it tends to take on the colour of the soil of its habitat. It has powerful, bear-like digging claws which leave a distinctive three-marked track.

The Antbear is a solitary nocturnal animal, and is rarely seen during the day. They usually sleep in a hole which they fill in behind them.

A single young is born from July to September (late in winter or in early spring). The young has a mass of around 2kg and the gestation period is about 7 months.

Other Names for the Aardvark / Antbear

  • aarvark
  • erdvark

Distribution

Distribution map of the Aardvark
Distribution map of the Aardvark

Taxonomy of the Aardvark / Antbear

  • Order - Tubulidentata
  • Family - Orycteropodidae
  • Genus - Orycteropus
  • Species - Orycteropus afer

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