The aardvark (Orycteropus afer) or ant bear is a peculiar looking, nocturnal animal with a humped back and a long snout and tail. An adultís body may be 1.3 metres (4.6 feet) from snout to rump, with the tail adding another 60 centimetres (two feet). They can weigh up to 65 kilograms (143 pounds). Males and females are the same size but can be distinguished by the femaleís slightly lighter colour. Local soil colour often masks their true yellowish grey. Since they are entirely nocturnal aardvarks are very difficult to see except when caught in the glare of car headlights. Then, they appear to be a light grey colour.
Aardvarks are accomplished diggers, and can completely bury themselves in less than 10 minutes. Their eyesight is poor, but their scent and hearing are very good. They inhabit open grassland, woodland and bush-land but are rare in forests. When moving, they make a snorting grunt sound.
Aardvarks are relatively vulnerable to predation from all large mammalian predators and rock pythons. They invariably escape by running into a hole.
Breeding appears to be timed so that young are born at the onset of the short rains in East Africa. One or two naked young are born in burrows which consist of several metre-long runs with living chambers at the end. Although aardvarks are basically solitary, only coming together to mate, several animals may sleep in one burrow. Most likely these are related: a female and nearly grown young or a courting pair.
Their staple diet is termites, either looped up from the ground with their long, sticky tongues, or dug out of the ground.
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