“Aardwolf25” by Greg Hume – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aardwolf25.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Aardwolf25.JPG
Tanzania is home to thousands of different species of mammals, birds, and insects, many of them unlike anything you’ve ever seen (or maybe even imagined!) before. The aardwolf is one of the stranger creatures you might see on safari (especially if you’re lucky enough to head out on a night drive). Most people won’t have heard of the aardwolf, so take our fun quiz to learn more about this elusive, little-known creature:
1. I’m most closely related to:
2. My favorite food is:
3. I travel:
a.) In large packs
b.) In small, hierarchical groups
4. I’m about as tall as:
a.) Your knee
b.) Your thigh
c.) Your hip
5. During the day I:
b.) Sleep in dens dug by other animals
c.) Sleep in the branches of trees
6. If you startle me I’ll probably:
c.) Give myself a mohawk
7. The predator I’m most afraid of is:
How did you do?
1: (b.) Look closely and you’ll notice the aardwolf’s distinctive sloping back; that’s because, like hyena, aardwolf have longer front legs than back.
2: (a.) Aardwolf are almost exclusively insectivores. They use their long, sticky tongues to pull up to 200,000 termites out of a mound in just one night!
3: (c.) Well, not entirely; mated aardwolf will stick close to one another. But because a single aardwolf needs as much as four square kilometers for optimal survival, they won’t stay too close.
4: (a.) Think of them as “pocket hyena.”
5: (b.) Aardwolf are mostly nocturnal, and during the heat of the day, they like to take refuge in subterranean burrows…they just don’t like having to dig them, first.
6: (c.) Aardwolf aren’t particularly fast, and as insectivores, they actually lose their (already blunt) teeth as they age, so they don’t much like a fight, either. When threatened, they do the only thing they can: raise the bristly mane on their necks in an attempt to look bigger.
7: (c.) Mature aardwolf don’t have many wild predators, but they are threatened by men. Agricultural development both strips them of habitat and, when pesticides are used, can poison them. They’re sometimes hunted for their pelts, or by ranchers who mistake them as a threat, and as nocturnal foragers, they’re regularly struck by vehicles, which they generally fail to move away from.
Despite all that, aardwolf have healthy (if somewhat spread-out) populations!