When tired, aardvarks yawn, sticking their tongue straight out and then rolling it back in like a party favor. Depending on the soil type, aardvarks can dig a burrow within five to 20 minutes. They use various types of burrows: one made while foraging; temporary sites on the home range to be used for refuge in bad weather; and a permanent refuge site where young are born.
Aardvarks at the Bronx Zoo
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During mating season the males will start to look for females. The males may fight each other for the right to mate with a female. After mating the couple will go their separate ways. Several months later the female will have one young. Occasionally twins have been identified but it is extremely rare.
They may travel long distances at night in order to find the food resources. They tend to be loners but their habitat can overlap with others. As long as there is enough food the Aardvarks will ignore each other. If food is scarce though they will become aggressive to protect what they do find.
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 adult aardvark's principal enemies are human (who sometimes kill it for meat), lions, hyenas and leopards; pythons also take the young. Aardvark flesh is relished by several African tribes and many parts of the aardvark body are used as charms: the teeth are believed to prevent illness and bad
It can close its nostrils to keep dust and insects from invading its snout, and its thick skin protects it from bites. It uses a similar technique to raid underground ant nests.
Aardvarks are nocturnal. They spend the hot African afternoon holed up in cool underground burrows dug with their powerful feet and claws that resemble small spades. After sunset, aardvarks put those claws to good use in acquiring their favorite food—termites.
Aardvarks are polygamous (having more than one partner) and mating takes place year-round. Gestation lasts 7 months, after which 1 (occasionally 2) young are born weighing 1.8-2 kg. The young remain with their mothers for several weeks before venturing out of their burrow to forage with their mothers. Sexual maturity is reached 2 years after birth. Aardvarks can live up to 23 years.
The aardvark has a steady diet of ants, termites, and other insects, which it digs out of the ground and slurps up with a sticky, foot-long tongue. While foraging at night, the animal presses its snout to the ground and follows a zigzag motion to pick up scents. As it goes from one termite nest to another, it covers an average of 6 miles a night.
The name aardvark comes from Afrikaans and it means "earth pig", because European (Dutch) settlers in Africa thought it resembles a pig. The name of its order, Tubulidentata (of which the aardvark is the only member), refers to its teeth, which instead of one pulp cavity have a lot of thin tubes and no enamel coating, so its teeth are worn away and regrow continuously. It has more olfactory lobes than any other mammal, and this gives it a highly developed sense of smell.