Mike Unwin
United Kingdom UK

Mike is an award winning wildlife writer, editor of Travel Zambia magazine and author of the Bradt Guide to Southern African Wildlife.

Category: African Wildlife

The Aardvark

Aardvark, this bizarre creature  – the animal that opens every English dictionary – is unlike anything else you might meet on safari. Although fairly common, its shy, nocturnal habits mean that sightings are extremely rare.

5 Fascinating Facts:

  1. An aardvark may use its ribbon-like 30cm-long tongue to gather up to 50,000 ants in a single night.
  2. Powerful limbs and spade-like claws allow an aardvark to dig up to 60cm in 15 seconds. It seals its nostrils while digging to prevent them from clogging up with dust.
  3. Disused aardvark burrows provide homes for many other creatures. From wild cats and wild dogs to pythons, porcupines and even the rare blue swallow.
  4. The aardvark has an entire scientific all order to itself. It is the only species in the genus Orycteropus, which is the only genus in the family Orycteropidae. Which, in turn, is the only family in the order Tubulidentata.
  5. It is often assumed that they are related to South America’s anteaters. But the features that they have in common result from ‘convergent evolution’ and are simply shared adaptations to a diet of ants. In fact, they are completely unrelated to anteaters, and share a distant African ancestor with elephants, hyraxes and dugongs.

More to learn

You've heard the expression "the more I learn, the more I realize the less I know". Well, this is true of African wildlife. There are so many species out there. There is so much to see and discover. It's exciting, really. At SafariBookings, we always gather information and post informative articles about the wildlife you will see on safari. And we also share some rather interesting traveller stories and anecdotes about wildlife encounters. So tell us your stories and share them on Facebook! We'd love to hear from from fellow wildlife watchers. Photos are always welcome. Check out some of ours on Instagram.