🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Our Aardwolf in South Africa

(Photo © Ken Watkins)
When early Dutch colonial settlers arrived in Southern Africa, they were confronted by a strange sight, a small wolf-like creature that lived below ground and spent a large amount of time digging. They named it the ‘earth wolf’ or ‘aardwolf’. Although some farmers hunted it believing it to be a killer of livestock, and others hunted it for its pelt, many came to appreciate the animal, for one simple reason: in a single day it could eat hundreds of thousands of the termites that devastated their crops.

Unlike other hyenas, the diet of the aardwolf almost completely consists of termites and other insect larvae and carrion. Termites are the aardwolf's main dish and it is guided to them by its sharp hearing and keen nose. Using its incisor teeth, the aardwolf  laps up the termites with a large tongue which is covered with sticky saliva.

Aardwolves are shy and nocturnal sleeping in underground burrows by day. They usually use existing burrows of Aardvarks and porcupines, despite being capable of creating their own. By night, an aardwolf can consume up to 200,000 harvester termites using its sticky, long tongue. They take special care not to destroy the termite mound or consume the entire colony, which ensures that the termites can rebuild and provide a continuous supply of food. They will often memorise and return to nests to save the trouble of finding a new one.

Mice and ground birds are also included in its diet, and it is partial to the eggs of ground nesting birds.

Often mistaken for hyenas and struggling to survive in farmlands, aardwolf numbers have dwindled to worrying levels.

SIZE: Shoulder height 50cm, mass 9 kg.

The Aardwolf has a Sandy to yellow brown body with four to eight dark brown vertical stripes. Black feet and tail tip; a thick dorsal mane from the back of head to base of tail, which is tipped with black.

They are gentle and very timid animals, and are primarily nocturnal, although they may be active during the late afternoon if termites are available at that time. They often get caught in the beam of car headlights: many aardwolf are killed accidentally by cars. Due to its clumsy and slow movements it is often caught by predators. Aardwolfs generally do not drink surface water, as they get all of their water requirements from termites. They have been known, however, to drink water during cold spells when termites are not available.


  1. Maree, it is Terry. I'm fine. I just wanted to get in touch with you and let you know that everything is okay. Please do not e-mail me at my old address. I miss your e-mails. E-mail me back if you get this.

    Miss you, Terry

  2. Hi Maree:

    Did you want my e-mail address? Here it is: blondejaneblonde007@gmail.com



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