Orycteropus afer


  • Domain Eukarya
  1. All organisms in this domain have a nucleus in their cell(s)
  2. These animals can be single or multicellular
  • Kingdom Animalia
  1. All animals are heterotrophs (eat other organisms)
  2. All animals have no cell wall
  3. All animals can move at one point in their lives
  4. All animals reproduce sexually
  • Phylum Chordata
  1. All have bilateral symmetry
  2. All have digestive system
  3. All have three germ layers(skin, muscle, bone)
  • Subphylum Vertebrata
  1. All have some kind of backbone
  2. All have ventral(undersided) heart
  3. Movement is provided by muscles attached to endoskeleton
  • Class Mammalia
  1. All have hair at one point in life
  2. All have highly developed brain
  3. Teeth are replaced once in life, each tooth has a different function
  4. At least two sexs with y and x chromosomes.
  • Order Tubulidentata
  1. This order only has the Aardvark in it
  • Family Orycteropodidae
  1. This family only has the Aardvark in it
  • Genus Orycteropus
  1. This genus only has the Aardvark in it
  • Species afer
  1. Aardvark

General Information

  • Length - 4 feet (6 feet with tail)
  • Height - 2 feet up to shoulders
  • Weight - Aardvarks can weigh from 40 to 82 kilograms
  • Color - Aardvarks have a pale grey and peach colored skin. They are also covered in thick grey hairs except on the ears and feet
  • Natural Range - Aardvarks are mainly found in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Diet - An Aardvarks diet an range from eating mostly termites in the wet season, to eating mainly ants, seeds, insect larvae, and some fruits in the dry season
  • Habitat - Aardvarks mainly live on grasslands and savannas
  • Predators - Aardvarks are rarely ever hunted but sometimes can be hunted by humans, lions, hunting dogs, cheetahs, and leopards
  • Lifespan - About 10 years

Physical Adaptations

Aardvarks have sharp, spade like claws which they use to dig. This is helpful for them to be able to dig into the earth with great speeds which allows them to hunt, and escape predators more easily. Aardvarks also have very sensitive ears that move independently, this helps them hear the sound of ants digging so they can locate them, they can also use this adaptation to hear predators while they are distracted. Another adaptation used to help them hunt is a very sense of smell which also helps them locate ant or termite colonies. Yet another adaptation used to help them hunt is their sticky tongue similar to an ant eaters used to catch many ants or termites to eat. How they do is they bend down and slither their long tongue into the colony can there many ants are caught. Another adaptation is they have thick skin, this helps because this way they don't get effected by bites or stings from insects. Aardvarks along with their claws for digging also have strong, muscular legs to dig through dirt. Since Aardvarks travel mainly at night, they have many rods in their eyes which allow them to see very well at night or in the dark. Finally, they have a long, slender(skinny) snout so they can further put their face toward the ground to swoop up ants.

Behavioral Adaptations

Aardvarks are nocturnal which means travel at night, this way they can avoid predators like lions and cheetah who usually sleep during the night. To conserve food, Aardvarks don't completely destroy ant or termite colonies when hunting, allowing it to be rebuilt, this way Aardvarks can always come back for more ants. To avoid being eaten, when near predators, Aardvarks try to burrow deep into the ground to escape, if they can't escape, then they stand on their hind legs and swipe their claws repeatedly at their enemies. Since Aardvarks populations are low, males tend to go around and mate with as many females as possible, so then they can produce many offspring. Since an Aardvark's predators mostly travel at day, Aardvarks when they do travel at day (which is rare), they try to stay near tall grass to conceal themselves. Finally, Aardvarks dig into earth and create shelter called burrows, which is how they got their name, Aardvark really means "earth-pig". This burrow acts as shelter and defense.


Aardvark. (n.d.). Retrieved from Encyclopedia of Life website: http://eol.org/pages/327830/details

Aardvark. (n.d.). Retrieved from Brookfield Zoo website: http://www.czs.org/Brookfield-ZOO/Zoo-Animals/Habitat-Africa!-The-Savannah/Aardvark.aspx

Burton, M. (2002). Aardvark. In International wildlife encyclopedia (3rd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 16-17). New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish.

Myers, P. 2001. "Vertebrata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 13, 2015 at http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Vertebrata/

Myers, P. 2000. "Tubulidentata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 11, 2015 at http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Tubulidentata/

Myers, P. 2001. "Animalia" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 12, 2015 at http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Animalia/

Myers, P. 2001. "Chordata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 12, 2015 at http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Chordata/

Ratzloff, E. 2011. "Orycteropus afer" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 12, 2015 at http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Orycteropus_afer/

Wund, M. and P. Myers 2005. "Mammalia" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 13, 2015 at http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Mammalia/