Aardvarks are burrowing mammals best known for their long snout and diet that is primarily made up of ants and termites. Although they are sometimes called anteaters they are not related to the South American anteater. Their name comes from Afrikanns and means “ground pig”, but this species is not related to the pig either. In fact, the aardvark has very few living close relatives, which means they are relatively unique. Let’s take a closer look at the habitat and distribution of the aarvark.
Where do Aardvarks come from?
Aardvarks are native to Africa and, apart from the Sahara desert and islands, they can be found across the entire continent. Aardvarks can live in a variety of habitats including: grassland, woodland, bushland and savannas. These areas contain enough food for the aardvark to survive. The following is a map of the native range of the aardvark:
Aardvarks live in burrows and their main burrow will have several entrances and can be up to 13 m (43 ft) long. They also dig temporary burrows within 30 km of their main burrow which are used as refuges as they look for food. They use the main burrow for breeding, to protect themselves from predators and for rest. Aardvarks spend most of the day in the burrow and emerge shortly before or after sunset to feed. Adult aardvarks do not share tunnels, although a mother and her young will live in the same burrow.
Did you know?
Aardvarks often change the layout of the main burrows. Sometimes they move on to make a new burrow, which allows other animals to move in to the old one!
Although they are usually slow animals, aardvarks are capable of digging 60 cm (2 ft) in 2 seconds! This fast digging is mostly used to catch ants and termites or to escape from predators.