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Animal File

Common Name:
Scientific Name:
Orycteropus afer
Size: 60 cm
Weight: 40 - 65 kg
Native to Africa

Conservation Status

Least concern

Aardvarks, or earth pigs as they are known in their native Africa, can live up to about 23 years of age in captivity.  The main threat to their survival in the wild comes from habitat loss as villages expand to provide more farming land. 

Aardvarks give birth to one baby which has to quickly become independent in order to not get run over by its parents as they conscientiously patrol the locality in search of food.  They can eat up to 50,000 termites in one night, catching them on a very long, sticky tongue and swallowing them whole.  Replicating their diet in a captive situation is very difficult, so a mixture of fruit, vegetables, dog food, mince, mealworms and vitamins is blended in a liquid as the aardvarks have no teeth to chew solids.

As they are primarily nocturnal, sunscreen can be applied in the Zoo to prevent burning of their tender skin which lacks protective hair.

Although quite placid in nature, aardvarks are very inquisitive and can cause damage with their muscular bodies and long sharp claws which they use to break into solid termite mounds.  They also have excellent hearing.  

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