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Aardvark, Orycteropus afer

An aardvark at Detroit Zoo

The aardvark, Orycteropus afer, from Greek, orykterópous, meaning "digging footed" and afer: from Africa)
is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal native to Africa. It is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata.

It is sometimes colloquially called "antbear", "anteater", or the "Cape anteater" after the Cape of Good Hope.
The name comes from earlier Afrikaans, and means "earth pig" or "ground pig" (aarde earth/ground, varken pig),
because of its burrowing habits..

An aardvark's weight is typically between 40 and 65 kilograms (88 and 140 lb).
An aardvark's length is usually between 1 and 1.3 metres (3.3 and 4.3 ft), and can reach lengths of 2.2 metres (7 ft 3 in)
when its tail (which can be up to 70 centimetres (28 in)) is taken into account

Aardvarks live in sub-Saharan Africa, where there is suitable habitat for them to live, such as savannas, grasslands, woodlands and bushland, and available food (i.e., ants and termites). The aardvark is nocturnal and is a solitary creature
that feeds almost exclusively on ants and termites, the only fruit eaten by aardvarks is the aardvark cucumber.
An aardvark emerges from its burrow in the late afternoon or shortly after sunset, and forages over a considerable
home range encompassing 10 to 30 km,[2] swinging its long nose from side to side to pick up the scent of food.

Aside from digging out ants and termites, the aardvark also excavates burrows in which to live; temporary sites are
scattered around the home range as refuges, and a main burrow is used for breeding. Main burrows can be deep and
extensive, have several entrances and can be as long as 13 metres (43 ft). [All above: 1]

The aardvark is perhaps Africa's most unusual animal. It's name means "earth pig" and yet is not even related to the pigs.
The body is bulky and the back is humped, somewhat resembling that of a rodent with much less hair.
The head is long and narrow, like that of an anteater, and ends in a pig-like snout.
The ears are very long, like those of a rabbit, and can move independently of one another.

The mouth contains 20 teeth situated near the back of the jaws. The teeth themselves are remarkable in that they
continuously grow and yet lack both roots and enamel. Fine tubes radiate through each tooth;
Tubulidentata means "the tube-toothed".

The mouth contains another unusual feature: the long tongue. Somewhat like that of an anteater, the tongue is 1.5 ft
(45 cm) in length, thin, and sticky. It is perfect for slipping between holes in termite nests and lapping up the insects.

The legs are short and powerful and end in webbed toes, four on each of the front feet and five on each of the hind feet.
The toes end in long blunt claws excellent for digging burrows in the ground or holes in termite nests.
The claws are stronger than the head of a pick-axe.

Aardvarks have several natural enemies, including: dogs, pythons, cheetahs, leopards, lions, and ratels.
Warthogs will eat the young. To protect themselves against such enemies, they have several lines of defense.
They can run, dig a hole and hide in it, or defend themselves with their tail and long claws.
Man is their worst enemy, killing them for food, their tough hide, or to be used as good luck charms.
They are vulnerable to crop farming. [2]

 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aardvark
 2. http://www.angelfire.com/mo2/animals1/aardvark/aardvark.html


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