Aardvark in exhibit

Aardvark

Scientific Name

Orycteropus afer

Geographic Range

Sub-Saharan Africa

Diet

Ants and termites
Aardvark in exhibit
IUCN Conservation Status: LEAST CONCERN IUCN Conservation Status: LEAST CONCERN

About This Animal

Although aardvarks resemble pigs and their name even comes from root words meaning “earth pig” in South Africa’s Afrikaans language, they are not related. In fact, aardvarks make up the single living species within its order, Tubulidentata.

Aardvarks have large ears and an elongated snout, often with hair at the end to prevent sand from entering their nostrils. They have grayish-pink skin and long, blunt claws for burrowing. Their long, sticky tongues allow them to gather and ingest insects easily. Their excellent sense of smell helps them locate insects even underground.

These animals are nocturnal, sometimes traveling six miles a night in search of food. They are generally solitary, coming together only for short periods. Not much is known about their reproduction, although they have a seven to nine month gestation period. Births occur from July through November and young aardvarks remain with their mothers for up to six months after birth.

This is a keystone species; aardvarks play a large role in their ecosystems because they abandon their burrows, which are then taken over by other species. They also live in many different types of habitats, from grasslands to savannas. Considered relatively common in suitable areas, they are nevertheless threatened in some regions due to hunting and habitat loss

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We cooperate with other members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to manage the zoo population of this species through a Species Survival Plan®.

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