Aardvark Definition | Characteristics & Facts


Aardvark Definition

It belongs to a mammal family and is native to sub-Saharan Africa. It is known for its distinctive appearance and specialized adaptations. Scientifically known as Orycteropus afer, it is the only species within its genus and family.

Aardvark General Characteristics & Facts


Aardvarks have a distinctive appearance, with a stocky body, large ears, a long snout, and a tail. Their body is covered in tough, wrinkled, and almost hairless skin.


Adult aardvarks typically measure around 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 meters) in length, including the tail. They stand about 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) tall at the shoulders.


Aardvarks weigh between 110 to 180 pounds (50 to 82 kilograms), with males usually being slightly larger than females.


They usually have a pale yellow or grayish color, which helps them blend in with their sandy surroundings.

Front Claws

Aardvarks have powerful front claws, particularly on their forelimbs, that they use for digging burrows and excavating termite mounds.


Their diet consists mainly of ants and termites. They have an incredibly long, sticky tongue (up to 12-18 inches) that they use to lap up insects from inside tunnels and mounds.


simple teeth with no enamel and their teeth continuously grow throughout their life to compensate for wear caused by grinding insects.


They inhabit savannas, grasslands, and open woodlands across sub-Saharan Africa.

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Physical Characteristics of Aardvark

  1. Body Shape: Aardvarks have a robust and cylindrical body shape. They have a large, stocky torso that gradually tapers towards the hindquarters.
  2. Size: Adult aardvarks typically measure about 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 meters) in length, including their tail. They stand around 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) tall at the shoulders.
  3. Skin: Aardvarks are covered in tough, wrinkled skin that is almost hairless. This skin provides some protection against insect bites and other environmental elements.
  4. Coloration: Their skin color can vary, ranging from pale yellow to grayish tones, helping them blend in with their natural habitat.
  5. Head and Snout: Aardvarks have a distinctive elongated and pointed snout, which is similar in appearance to that of a pig. This snout is sensitive and used for detecting insects and digging.
  6. Ears: They have large, rabbit-like ears that are sensitive to sound. These ears help them detect potential threats or predators.
  7. Eyes: Aardvarks have small, somewhat squinty eyes. Their eyesight is not very well-developed, and they primarily rely on their sense of smell and hearing.
  8. Front Claws: Aardvarks possess powerful, robust front claws on their forelimbs. These claws are designed for digging burrows and breaking open termite mounds.
  9. Tail: Their tail is relatively thick and can be quite long, contributing to their overall body length. It’s not prehensile and is primarily used for balance.
  10. Teeth: Aardvarks have simple, peg-like teeth that lack enamel. These teeth grow continuously throughout their life to compensate for the wear caused by grinding insects.
  11. Tongue: One of their most distinctive features is their long, sticky tongue, which can extend up to 12-18 inches (30-45 centimeters). They use this tongue to extract ants and termites from their nests.
  12. Feet and Claws: Aardvarks have strong, sturdy feet with five toes on each foot. Their front toes have powerful claws for digging, while their hind feet have hooves.
  13. Nostrils: They have large, flaring nostrils that help them breathe while digging and keep dirt and debris out.
  14. Scent Glands: Aardvarks possess scent glands near their anus, which secrete a strong-smelling fluid. They may use this scent for marking territory or signaling to other aardvarks.

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Scientific Classification of Aardvark

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Tubulidentata

Family: Orycteropodidae

Genus: Orycteropus

Species: Orycteropus afer

Key Location of Aardvark

  1. South Africa: Aardvarks are commonly found in South Africa, particularly in savannas and grasslands.
  2. Namibia: They are also present in Namibia’s desert regions and open habitats.
  3. Botswana: Aardvarks can be found in parts of Botswana, where suitable habitats exist.
  4. Zimbabwe: These animals inhabit certain areas of Zimbabwe, where they can access their preferred food sources.
  5. Kenya: Aardvarks are found in some parts of Kenya, especially in regions with termites and suitable burrowing sites.
  6. Tanzania: Certain areas of Tanzania provide suitable habitats for aardvarks, and they can be found in grasslands and open woodlands.
  7. Zambia: Aardvarks are known to inhabit parts of Zambia, particularly areas where they can find termites and ants.
  8. Mozambique: They are found in certain regions of Mozambique, where their preferred food sources are available.
  9. Angola: Aardvarks also inhabit parts of Angola, particularly in areas with suitable conditions for their burrowing and foraging activities.
  10. Other Sub-Saharan African Countries: Aardvarks are also present in various other sub-Saharan African countries where appropriate habitats and food sources are available.

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FAQs Aardvark

What does Aardvark eat?

  • Ants
  • Termites
  • Beetle larvae
  • Ant larvae
  • Termites’ eggs
  • Moths and their larvae
  • Ant pupae
  • Insect larvae found in decaying wood
  • Ant and termite workers
  • Small invertebrates and insects
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