IT’S THE MOST UNUSUAL ARK
We have Noah’s Ark, and we have the Ark of the Covenant. But for me, the most unusual ark is the Aardvark! Okay, that was a bit of a stretch, but I am certain that Noah would have made room for this inhabitant of Africa. He would never have left him behind. You just can’t resist that wonderful face.
Meet the subject of this week’s post, the Aardvark.
Photo credit: Thomas Retterath (National Geographic’s ‘Your Shot’)
Thankfully, the Aardvark is not endangered, but he is so unusual that I thought we would talk about him. Aardvarks live in Africa, south of the Sahara Desert. The above picture is of a young Aardvark, and it is quite strange due to the fact that Aardvarks are very elusive, and typically active only at night.
Aardvark Range is highlighted in green
Their name comes from the Afrikaans language, and it means ‘earth pig.’ A very fitting name, don’t you think? Earth pig does describe them well, but they look like a combination of animals. They have rabbit-like ears, a tail that reminds us of the kangaroo, and of course, their long snout is like those of the anteaters. It even has webbed feet like a duck. However, it is not related to any of those animals. It is the last surviving species of the order Tubulidentata. That’s a weird word, but it describes the teeth of the anteater, which are unlike any other species in that they grow in hexagonal columns separated by tubes of pulp. Another interesting fact about their teeth is that they have no enamel coating and they are continually worn down and regrow.
Photo credit: http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Orycteropus_afer/specimens/collections/contributors/skulls/orycteropus/o._afer/125685.utr/
The Aardvark, as we said, is nocturnal. It prefers to burrow down during the day to stay out of the hot African sun. Their claws look like large spades, and are the perfect tool for digging.
With its keen sense of small as its guide, the Aardvark comes out at night to search for its favorite meal: termites. They forage through the grasslands looking for large termite mounds where they can eat up to 50,000 termites in one evening. The Aardvark uses its sticky tongue, which can be as long as twelve inches, to lap up termites.
While enjoying its evening meal, the Aardvark can close up its nostrils to prevent dirt and insects from crawling into its snout. It also has very thick skin to protect against bug bites.
Photo Credit: Gary Parker (Nat’l Geographic’s ‘Your Shot.’
The Aardvark is an important animal because it is a keystone species. That means that other species in their environment depend on them in such a way that if they were removed from the environment, all species within it would be devastated. Without the Aardvark, which is continually digging burrows, other animals in its environment would not have homes. The other advantage of digging is that, while it digs, the Aardvark covers itself with dirt and dust. That dirt and dust camouflages much of the Aardvark’s scent. As a result, predators will not smell them and won’t notice them.
Sketch credit: enchantedlearning.com
The following video will give more information about the Aardvark and a good look at its digging, hunting, and survival capabilities.
To learn more about the Aardvark, visit the following sites:
Thanks so much for stopping by this week. Please take a moment to leave a comment, and share the post. I hope you enjoyed learning about this unusual animal, and that you’ll return next week to meet another.
Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza and The Gift of Sunderland
Middle Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!