What’s it all about?
On the 19th March every year, National Aardvark Day is when we celebrate our favourite inquisitive friend, the Aardvark. The natural habitat of the aardvark is sub-Saharan Africa and they are nocturnal.
In fact they only come out of their burrows for a few hours every night, so they are seldom seen. Aardvarks mostly eat ants and termites, but also the “Aardvark Cucumber” (Cucumis Humifructus), which relies on the aardvark eating the fruits to propogate its seeds.
The aardvark has long ears like a rabbit, a snout somewhat similar to a pig, and a tail a bit like a kangaroo, but actually there are no close relatives to the aardvark. In fact, the nearest thing to an aardvark is an elephant!
Each aardvark will eat around 30,000 ants per night
Its very difficult to know whether a baby aardvark is male or female. Zoos often use DNA tests to tell.
An aardvark can dig a yard of tunnel in around 5 minutes
Aardvarks are not related to anteaters. Their similarities are a result of convergent evolution
Aardvark means ‘Earth Pig’ in early Afrikaans
They have four toes on the front feet, but five toes on the rear feet
Aardvarks are colourblind, but they can see at night
An aardvark’s tongue is up to 30cm long
When aardvarks feel threatened, they will run in a zig zag fashion to avoid predators
Help support AfriCat’s Aardvark research in Namibia
The aardvark is an ecosystem engineer making it a keystone species. Without the borrows dug by aardvarks many other species would struggle as they take over the borrows and the termite ant populations would get out of control. The worrying thing is that aardvarks are having a tough time in drought conditions and droughts are increasing due to the impact of our changing climate.
A new study is getting underway at Okonjima the home of the AfriCat Foundation in Namibia to look at the how the aardvark is adapting to cope with changing weather patterns. It is hoped that such studies will help with ideas for how to support the aardvarks in the wild.
You can help the research team with a donation that will enable them to buy the following equipment:
- Camera trap – complete set up including SD and protective housing costing around £180
- Temperature logger for recording burrow temperature which is an important factor for aardvark activity £20
- VHF ear tag £180.
A Namibian student will be working under Dr Sarah Edwards guidance gathering data and supporting the project. Interesting and challenging work being in the African bush at night with other predators out looking for their dinner too! Can you help them?
Read more about the research at africat.org
Make a donation on the Fundraising Page
Who knew Arthur Read was an aardvark? He is a bit short in the snout and ears for our liking, but an all-round decent guy, so happy to welcome him into the fold.
Otis the Aardvark
Clearly more recognisable as an aardvark, sassy puppet Otis featured on children’s BBC in the 1990s
The Ant & The Aardvark
50 years ago, this blue aardvark chased around this red ant in a series of shorts alongside the Pink Panther
I’m an Aardvark Song
I’m an aardvark, and I’m proud!
I’m an aardvark, and I’m happy!
I’m an aardvark,
If I try to be specific
And a little scientific,
I am feeling quite terrific!
I’m an aardvark, fierce and free!
I’m an aardvark, standing bravely!
I’m an aardvark,
And I’m tough and smart and strong
And always right,
And that’s the way I’ll always be …
Until I meet another aardvark
Who’s bigger than me!
This is the 30m long Feestaardvarken (Party Aardvark) in Arnhem, Holland. It was created in 2013 by Florentijn Hofman to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Burger’s Zoo.
This giant aardvark stands outside the Planet Baobab camp, near Gweta on the Makgadigadi Pans in Botswana.