Aardwolves are a member of the hyena family. They have a body length between 55 and 80 cms (22 – 31.5 inches), a tail length between 20 and 30 cms (7.9 – 11.8 inches) and they weigh between 8 and 10 kgs (17.6 – 22 lbs).
Their fur is buff or yellowish/white in colour and they have 3 dark, vertical stripes down each side and diagonal dark stripes across their fore and hind quarters. They have a mane of hair on their back that stands up when they feel under stress. This makes the Aardwolf look larger and appear more threatening.
Their front legs are slightly longer than their hind, giving them a slightly downward sloping body. Their tail is bushy and they have dark eyes and a dark coloured muzzle.
Their front teeth resemble those of hyenas but their molars are like small pegs. To compensate for this their food is ground up by their muscular stomach.
Aardwolves are found on the open, grassy plains of east and south Africa. They are solitary and they rest in burrows during the day before becoming active at night. Their territory is between 1 and 4 square kilometres (0.6 – 2.5 sq. miles), depending of food availability, and they mark it with urine, dung and secretions from their anal glands.
Aardwolves mainly feed upon termites, in particular snouted harvester termites. They also eat maggots, grubs and any other soft bodies insects. Sometimes, but rarely, they will feed on small mammals, birds and carrion.
Aardwolves don’t dig into the nests of termites, they just pick them up with their tongue. They can consume as many as 200,000 termites during one night.
After a gestation period of approximately 90 days, 2 – 4 cubs are born in a den. They leave the den at 6 – 8 weeks old and between 9 and 11 weeks they begin to forage with their mother. By the time the cubs reach 16 weeks old they are weaned. Aardwolves reach sexual maturity by the time they are 2 years old.
Aardwolves are monogamous and both parents raise the cubs together. The primary duty of the male is to guard the den from predators. The breeding season is at different times of the year, depending on location.
Humans and dogs are the main predators of Aardwolves.
There are two subspecies of Aardwolf:
- Proteles cristatus cristatus
They are found in south Africa.
- Proteles cristatus septentrionalis
They are found in east Africa.
Aardwolves are also known as:
- Maanhaar Jackal
Aardwolf is the Afrikaans word for “earth wolf”
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