Aardvarks are medium sized mammals best known for their distinctive long nose. These animals are native to Africa and they can be found throughout most of the central and southern parts of the continent. Aardvarks do not have any close relatives, but they are distantly related to elephants. They share many traits with the South American anteater and a somewhat similar in appearance, but the two species are not closely related. Despite this, aardvarks are often incorrectly called anteaters. This might give you some clue to the common diet of this unique animal.
What do aardvarks eat?
Aardvarks are nocturnal, which means that they feed mostly at night. The large majority of their diet is made up of ants and termites. They can detect the scent of these insects with their long nose, which they swing from side to side in the search for food. When they find a large concentration of ants or termites they dig into the ground with claws on their powerful front legs. They then use their sticky tongue to catch the ants or termites. It is estimated that an aardvark can catch as many as 50,000 ants and/or termites in one night!
The only other food that aardvarks are known to eat is called the aardvark cucumber or aardvark pumpkin. This fruit grows under the ground where they are dug up and eaten by these animals. Aardvarks eat this fruit for the water content. The seeds of the aarvark cucumber pass into the feces (poop) of the animal and this is how the plant spreads. In fact, the seeds cannot germinate without the help of the aardvark!
Did you know?
The aardvark is a slow moving animal and is vulnerable to predators while feeding. Despite this, they are capable of digging 2 feet in 15 seconds!