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Aardvark means "Earth pig" in Afrikaans, a language of South Africa.
The aardvark is a hairy, nocturnal (active at night), burrowing, insect-eating mammal from Africa. Aardvarks are 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to1.8 m) long which includes a 2 feet (0.6 m) long tail. They weigh about 140 pounds (64 kg). Aardvarks have a long, narrow snout, a long tongue and very sticky saliva, which are used in getting ants and termites, the mainstay of its diet. They have a sleek, dark brown coat, long ears, short legs with webbed 2nd and 3rd toes, and strong, sharp, hoof-like claws. It has 10 cheek teeth (and no incisors or canines) and bristles around its small mouth. The teeth are made of a type of cement, not enamel (our teeth are made of enamel). Aardvarks have good sense of smell and hearing.
Aardvarks are insectivores that eat ants and termites. They use their large claws to dig into ant hills and termite mounds and then stick their long, sticky, extensile tongue into the nest or mound to get the insects. Aardvarks use their sense of smell and hearing to help locate the insects.
BEHAVIOR AND SOCIAL HABITS
Aardvarks are solitary, shy, nocturnal animals. They hunt for food at night while sleeping during the day. They burrow using their large claws and sleep underground in large dens that they dig. Very little is known about the aardvark.
Aardvarks live in Africa savannas, open grasslands, woodlands, and scrub. They range from southern Egypt to the Cape of Good Hope in the far south of Africa.
Aardvarks are quadrupeds (four-legged animals).
Aardvarks live about 10 years in captivity; their life span in the wild is unknown.
Females give birth to 1-2 cubs in October or November each year.
Aardvarks belong to the:
- Kingdom Animalia (the animals)
- Phylum Chordata
- Subphylum Vertebrata (animals with backbones)
- Class Mammalia (warm-blooded animals with fur and mammary glands)
- Order Tubulidentata. (teeth are constructed of small tubules of dentine compressed together; the aardvark is the only member of this order)
- Family Orycteropodidae, (the aardvark is the only member of this family)
- Genus Orycteropus
- Species afer
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