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Aardvark means "Earth pig" in Afrikaans, a language of South Africa. The aardvark is a solitary, shy, nocturnal animal. Aardvarks live in African savannas, open grasslands, woodlands, and scrub. They range from southern Egypt to the Cape of Good Hope in the far south of Africa. Aardvarks live about 10 years in captivity; their life span in the wild is unknown.

Anatomy: The aardvark is a hairy, nocturnal (active at night), burrowing mammal. Aardvarks are 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 m) long, including a 2 foot (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 it uses to catch 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. The aardvark has 10 cheek teeth (but 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 a good sense of smell and hearing.

Diet: Aardvarks are insectivores (insect-eaters) that eat ants and termites. They use their large claws to dig into anthills and termite mounds and then stick their long, sticky, extensile tongue into the nest or mound to get the insects. Aardvarks use their senses of smell and hearing to help locate insects.



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