Scientifically referred as Orycteropus afer, the Aardvarks are also known as the African Antbear or Anteater (not to be confused for the South American anteater or the Cape anteater) and are one of the common antelopes you will explore during Uganda safaris.
Aardvarks inhabit most of Sub-Saharan Africa and are nocturnals that move for several kilometers every night in search of food, comprising of mainly termites and ants. Mostly inhabit the open grasslands or savannahs with soft and sandy soils. Also create temporary shelters but aren’t but don’t go to waste because small mammals, pythons, porcupines and birds move in when the Aardvarks eventually leave.
The Aardvarks interestingly look-like a number of animals with little hair on their bodies, arched backs and have snout-like appearance at the end of their long and narrow faces hence are said to resemble pigs. However, they have rabbit-like ears and the Kangaroo-like tails. Not only that, their long tongues resemble that of the anteaters but obviously don’t belong to the same family tree.
Their hind legs are longer than the fore limbs with the latter possessing four toes and the former having five toes. Each of the toes is flat and has large strong nails and shovel-like appearance, immediate between claws and hooves.
They are burrowing mammals and so far the only remaining species of order Tubulidentata and have tubule-like teeth. Their tails are strong and thick and are used as a club. Aardvarks have sharp claws that are used as frightening weapons and when caught in the open, they can roll on their backs to use all their four feet during the fight.
They are shockingly not fast runners hence are able to quickly dig a defensive burrow.
Aardvarks are generally medium sized mammals of around 2 meters tall with long snouts that show that they are relatives of the pig family although are totally unrelated. Also, their snouts bear the disk that shelter the nostrils while don’t possess the enamel teeth coating that eventually wear away and keep re-growing.
Their heads are elongated and fixed on short and big necks. These antelopes are born with conventional incisors and canines at the front of their jaws but eventually fall out and never grow again whereas the adults retain only the cheek teeth at the back of their jaws.
These antelopes are pale-yellowish and grey in color and most times stained reddish-brown by soil. Their coats are thin but their primary protection is their tough skins. Hairs are short on their heads and tail but longer on their legs.
These animals use their claws for digging burrows within the Anthills as they search for termites and ants in addition to digging their own burrows for resting and sheltering their young ones.
Much as these animals are known to be nocturnals, they are actually omnivores but very specialized ones for that matter. Are actually typically insectivores that depend on ants and termites, which also build their bodies and can eat up to 50,000 insects in one night. However, when food gets scarce they can consume wild melons as well as several soft-bodied insects.
Aardvarks are surprisingly not social animals hence live solitary lives and only get together during breeding seasons. Due to this and the fact that they are also nocturnals, little is known about their mating and breeding behavior, or even how they rear their offsprings.
They normally breed in October or November and gestation period is always 7 months and one offspring weighing from 1.7 to 1.9 kilograms is born. After just 6 months, the infants are now able to search for food on their own thus will leave their mothers to dig their own burrows but have to remain with their mothers until the next mating season.