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Aardvark

Find, identify and discuss the animals of all the SANParks

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gwendolen
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Aardvark

Unread postby gwendolen » Wed May 03, 2006 2:46 pm

Aardvark (Orycteropus afer)

Classification
Order: Tubulidentata
Family: Orycteropodidae
Genus: Orycteropus

Other names
Afrikaans: Aardvark
French: Oryctérope du Cap
German: Erdferkel
Dutch: Aardvarken
Portuguese: Oricterope

The Aardvark is a medium-sized mammal native to Africa.
The name comes from the Afrikaans/Dutch for "earth pig" (aarde earth, varken pig), because early settlers from Europe thought it resembled a pig.
However, the Aardvark is not closely related to pigs.

The aardvark has a short neck connected to a massive, dull brownish-gray, almost hairless body that has a strongly arched back.
Its colour is usually similar to the the soil in the area in which it lives. it has stout legs, the hind legs longer than the front ones.
The head is elongated and ends in a long, narrow snout, with nostrils that can be closed.
The long, tubular ears are normally held upright but can be folded and closed. The kangaroo-like tail is short but muscular .
The thick claws on the forefeet are used as digging tools.

Aardvarks are nocturnal, usually waiting until dark before they emerge from their burrows, although after a cold night, they may occasionally sun themselves.
As it is nocturnal and has poor eyesight, the aardvark is cautious upon leaving its burrow.
It comes to the entrance and stands there motionless for several minutes.
Then it suddenly leaps out in powerful jumps.
At about 30 feet out it stops, raises up on its legs, perks up its ears and turns its head in all directions.
If there are no sounds, it makes a few more leaps and finally moves at a slow trot to look for food.
The Aardvark feeds almost exclusively on ants and termites.
It forages over a considerable home range, swinging its long nose from side to side to pick up the scent of food.
When a concentration of ants or termites is found, the Aardvark digs into it with its powerful front legs, keeping its long ears upright to listen for predators and takes up an astonishing number of insects with its long, sticky tongue—as many as 50,000 in one night has been recorded.
It is an exceptionally fast digger, but otherwise moves rather slowly.
The adult aardvark's principal enemies are human (who sometimes kill it for meat), lions, hyenas and leopards; pythons also take the young.
When in danger the aardvark takes to the nearest hole, or rapidly excavates one, pushing the dirt backwards with its feet and moving the dirt away with its tail.
But if cornered, it defends itself by sitting up, using its tail, shoulders and foreclaws- or it will lie on its back and strike with all four feet.

Habitat
Aardvarks are found in all regions, from dry savanna to rain forest, where there are sufficient termites for food, access to water and sandy or clay soil.

Reproduction and social life
Aside from digging out ants and termites, the Aardvark also excavates burrows to live in: temporary sites scattered around the home range as refuges, and the main burrow which is used for breeding.
Main burrows can be deep and extensive, have several entrances, and can be as much as 13 meters long. The Aardvark changes the layout of its home burrow regularly, and from time to time moves on and makes a new one.
Only mothers and young share burrows.

After a gestation period of 7 months, a single cub weighing around 2 kg is born, and is able to leave the burrow to accompany its mother after only two weeks.
At six months of age it is digging its own burrows, but it will often remain with the mother until the next mating season.
The Aardvarks can grow older than 20 years in captivity.

Source Wikipedia, African Wildlife Foundation

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Unread postby lepus » Sun Jul 02, 2006 10:44 pm

Last edited by Elsa on Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: pic resized.
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Unread postby lepus » Sat Jul 08, 2006 10:46 am

yeah, it's kind of strange to see them in daylight. Juding from its size it is probably a young individual. Might be a young male dispersing from its parental habitat, but still strange he is walking during the day.
Another explanation could be that flooding have forced it to move during the day, however, I saw it in the middle of the winter...
Last edited by lepus on Sun Jul 09, 2006 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby MATTHYS » Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:05 pm

I would really like to know if anyone has ever seen Aardvarke in Addo ?
They are not listed in animals found in Addo, but SO and I spotted 2 round about 17h00 5 km from Mathyolweni during our recent trip.
A truck came roaring past before we could capture them on cam
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Unread postby DinkyBird » Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:22 pm

MATTHYS, it is listed as found in Addo in the book Addo Elephant National Park - Official Guide.
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Re: Aardvark

Unread postby Rusty Justy » Thu Oct 16, 2008 6:52 pm

Mmmmm the Mythical Aardvark......I have seen the spoor, found the fresh diggings, found dung in the mounds they dig, borrows being occupied(They normally build a pile of sand within the enterance if they inside, leaving a small gap above for circulation, the flies all over the place also gave it away).....These guys are all over the Waterberg, and definately on my property in Vaalwater.......BUT, yet to be seen!!!! :pray:
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Zun Riley
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Re: Aardvark

Unread postby Zun Riley » Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:16 pm

The best place to see a Aardvark is all the way up in the kalahari.That's where i see most of them!The best thing to do is find a burrow and make sure it's fresh(look for fresh spoor or dung).Then sit around and wait... :roll:.(take some snacks this might take long) :popcorn:

(PS. this could take hours and the bad thing is they dont always return to that exact burrow,and all you might find coming to the burrow is a Warthog or a Porcupine.)

But i have used this tecnique a few times and have striked lucky,so give it a try!! :)

Kgaligadi is your best try for a SANPARK.
But a private game reserve with a willing guide is probably your best chance.
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Re: Aardvark

Unread postby o-dog » Wed Feb 25, 2009 3:27 pm

Hey for all those interested in seeing Aardvark from my experience the only place I have had good success is close to the Limpopo River west of pontdrift. Specifically on the Mmabolela farm. 4 sightings in 8 days of being there in winter.
I think the reason they are 'more common' is perhaps due to a low predator density with leopard being the only major predator in that area and as a result they let their guard down a bit.
The nice thing is that this farm is self drive so you can drive the whole night until you find what youre looking for.

Interestingly since working at one of the lodges in SS on the property have recorded 2 occassions in 3 years where Aardvark have fallen victim to leopard-this goes with 3 or 4 actual sightings. Now do the maths of 10 game drive vehicles times 365 days time 3 (years) and that is perhaps your odds of seeing one on a night drive in KNP. For similar ecozones as Sabi Sands (although I think the drier areas might be better) works out
to about 1 sighting for every 3500 drives conducted!

ONly sightings I have heard of from friends in KNP are Makuleke concession and Mopani areas.

Good luck to you all!
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Re: Aardvark

Unread postby ecojunkie » Fri May 22, 2009 4:40 pm

Saw one last night about 11pm on the power-line road about 1km north of the S28 near Croc Bridge. We were on a night drive (guide and me, plus 9 guests) and we all had a very good sight of it as it foraged about among the small bushes near the road.
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Re: Aardvark

Unread postby Patto » Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:52 pm

Hey, sorry to make you all :mrgreen: ...

Saw one on a Sunset Drive outside Lower Sabie on the S28 in December, just north of the turning to the Nhlanganzwani Dam on the right hand side of the road. It was fairly close, but unfortunately quickly disappeared into its burrow, never to be seen again, so no photos. The guide on the trip, Patrick, had been in Kruger for 4 years and it was his first sighting. Apparently MJ (other LS guide) had seen it the previous week too.

Good luck to those going that way soon!

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Re: Aardvark

Unread postby wanderw » Sun Jun 20, 2010 10:53 pm

On our recent Frontier Parks trip we saw this guy near Karoo NP. We could not believe our eyes - in the middle of the day!

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Cutest behind in the world!

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Kgalagadi Leopard Identification Guide and Sightings Form
http://www.ast.uct.ac.za/~schurch/leopards/

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Re: Aardvark

Unread postby wanderw » Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:26 pm

Thanx everyone! :thumbs_up: We spent the rest of the day grinning from ear to ear!

@Pumbaa - we past a hairy termite mound, and screeched to a halt once we realized termite mounds aren't hairy! :lol: We crept back to the 'mound' and had a few seconds with the Aardvark(I think he froze trying to figure out the new sounds and smells), before he turned and bounded away. It was nearly noon when we saw him, temperature outside was 10 degrees!
Kgalagadi Leopard Identification Guide and Sightings Form
http://www.ast.uct.ac.za/~schurch/leopards/

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Re: Aardvark

Unread postby cwaw » Wed Aug 25, 2010 12:52 pm

On August 18th this year a friend and I took a sunset drive from Malelane camp with the fantastic Stanley. We were heading south along the S114 when we saw an aardvark about 2 meters to the side of our vehicle - in a clearing! We saw it very clearly for the 10 seconds or so that it hung around. It was our guides first sighting of the animal. Some Danish tourists got photos of the aardvark but we due to language barriers we weren't able to swap email addresses. I had a video camera with me but wasn't quick enough to get some footage.

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Re: A question from a new member

Unread postby Jungle Junkie » Mon Nov 15, 2010 7:48 pm

Okay I found it -

Chirinda "A WOW" night drive

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Re: Has anybody seen an aardvark?

Unread postby ecojunkie » Wed Jan 05, 2011 8:20 pm

I saw 2 in the space of a month! One near Crocodile Bridge, and the other near the Gormondwane loop/Duke road junction south of Lower Sabie.
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