April 21, 2021

Meet The Aardwolf, One Of The Oddly Cutest Animals You Might Have Never Heard Of

Ever heard of an aardwolf? If not, then sit back and prepare to not only see another cute creature of nature but also learn some new information about it.

The name Aardwolf means ‘earth wolf’ in Afrikaans and stems from its supposed dog-like features and its dietary habits of eating termites. So highly adapted to eating termites, the aardwolf’s teeth, except for its canines, have dwindled to mere pegs incapable of even chewing meat. Its fangs are still well developed, and it uses them to defend its territory from other Aardwolves. (source: kurgerpark.co.za)

They occur throughout eastern and southern Africa, except in the south along the coast. These secretive and entirely harmless carnivores appear to have a wide habitat tolerance with a preference for semi-arid, open plains, savannas, and grasslands where it lives in burrows in the ground. There are two geographically separate populations of Aardwolve’s, one centered in South Africa and the other extending from central Tanzania northward to southern Egypt. Aardwolves are mostly found in the grasslands and scrubs of Botswana, Karoo, and the Northern Cape Province.

This little critter is a baby aardwolf

Image credits: arkive

Aardwolves are nocturnal, solitary foragers, only coming together to mate and rear young. They are sometimes seen in pairs or small groups. The Aardwolf has never developed a clan system like the spotted and striped hyenas because of their strict diet of termites. A single aardwolf can eat up to 300,000 termites per night!

The adults are just as cute as the babies

Aardwolves come from the same family as the hyena, but these guys have mohawks!

Unlike their bone-chomping cousins, aardwolves prefer to munch on termites

Image credits: Hennie van Heerden

Since the male and female Aardwolf are solitary, shy, and elusive not much is known about their social behavior, but it is believed that mating occurs throughout the year. It is about 15-20 inches from the shoulder to the ground. Its tail is 8-12 inches. The aardwolf usually weighs between 50 and 60 pounds. Gestation lasts for 90-100 days and 2 to 4 cubs are produced. When the cubs are weaned both parents feed them regurgitated termites.

They’re nocturnal creatures and they live in underground burrows  in East and Southern Africa

Scientists once thought they were solitary creatures, but actually they’re very family-oriented

Image credits: Ohange Namibia Lodge

The cubs are born blind and helpless. Both parents raise the young. The cubs rely on their parents for 16 to 20 weeks. The cubs spend six to eight weeks in the den. After that period, at about three months, the young aardwolves are ready to start foraging with one or both parents. They do that for about a month. At about four months, they start foraging on their own.

The aardwolf is a solitary animal, except when raising young. Several females with cubs may share a burrow.

They often don’t dig the holes themselves, however, preferring to inhabit abandoned burrows of other animals

Image credits: Daryl Balfour

They have long sticky tongues which they use to lap up thousands of termites

Image credits: Nigel J Dennis

A single aardwolf can eat up to 300,000 termites per night!

Image credits: Cincinnati zoo

An adult grows to roughly the same size as a fox

Image credits: Animals-Safaris

Being monogamous creatures, they stay with the same mate for their entire lifetime

Image credits: Gerard Lacz