Aardwolves are insectivorous hyenas native to East and South Africa. They are also called maanhaar-jackals, termite-eating hyenas, and civet hyenas.
They are timid nocturnal burrowers. In winter, they may be diurnal feeders and spend the day outside; in summer, they sleep underground. They find food via sound and termite smell. They don’t damage or eat the termite mound.
They are a small member of the hyena family with long, pointed ears, slender skulls, and long necks.
Aardwolf Facts for Kids
- Aardwolves mostly eat termites.
- Aardwolves are nocturnal.
- They are related to hyenas.
- Aardwolves are very territorial.
- Aardwolves’ lifespan is about 15 years.
- They are native to East and South Africa.
The Scientific Name of the Aardwolf is Proteles cristata. The aardwolf is a member of the family Hyaenidae and has five toes on its front limbs and four on its hind limbs.
The aardwolf is the smallest member of the hyena family and has strong dark stripes against a backdrop of brown or yellow fur with additional black markings around the feet, tail, and muzzle.
They have a thin striped hyena with a mane down the midline of the neck and back and several stripes on its legs. It is missing the throat spot that others in the family have.
The aardwolf is a shy and elusive creature that lives in packs with its immediate offspring. They will construct up to ten dens and several different sites for dumping waste disposal within their region.
Aardwolves communicate with scent markings on their anal gland and make few sounds unless threatened or startled. They may also emit a foul-smelling substance when in danger.
Despite their strong bond, aardwolves appear to do most of their foraging alone. They may share part of their territory or hunt in small groups when food is particularly scarce.
Aardwolves are monogamous and form pairs. However, dominant males may mate with more than females. They give birth to 2 to 5 cubs during the rainy season (November-December), when termites are more active, and the cubs are born with their eyes open but initially helpless.
The mating season can occur at any time of the year; however, depending on the environment in which it lives, the peak breeding season is often during the wetter months.
Aardwolves prefer dry open savannas and grasslands with minimal annual rainfall and are found in two separate disconnected places: Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya.
Predators and Threats
Predators such as leopards, lions, and spotted hyenas can take the lives of adult aardwolves and the pups they have raised. Aardwolf pups are a common prey item for black-backed jackals.
What Does the Aardwolf Eat?
Aardwolves consume termites and are resistant to the poisons they create. They eat bugs, but not carrion.
An aardwolf can consume thousands of termite insects in a single night because of its long, sticky tongue.
They don’t destroy termite mounds or consume the entire colony but rather return to the same nests every few months. They eat other animals and insects like larvae, eggs, small mammals, and birds.
How do Aardwolf communicate
Aardwolves communicate largely through smell. They make clucking, growling, and roaring sounds when confronting intruders or predators.
Reproduction and Life Cycle
The aardwolf breeds in the rainy months and produces a single litter per year. The most dominant males are known to encroach on weaker males’ territories. They will even mate with the females in this case.
The mother will give birth to a litter of two to five puppies after a gestation period of around 90 days. At birth, the puppies will have their eyes open but are otherwise helpless. The puppies will remain safe and protected in the underground den for the first three to four months of their lives.