Aardvark - Orycteropus afer
The Aardvark, Orycteropus afer is a large myrmecophagous mammal (40–60 kg) that is distributed locally throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
It is the only member of the order Tubulidentata (Orycteropodidae) and, as a solitary and nocturnal
animal, has been little studied.
Aardvarks are notable for their long nose, which is wider at the distal end. The body is massive and they have very muscular limbs ending in thick-nailed digits. They have 4 toes on the forefeet and 5 toes on the hind feet, each ending in a spade-like claw that helps them to dig with great speed and force. Digging is used both to acquire food and as a means of escape. In southern Africa aardvarks feed primarily on ants, but termites also constitute an important part of their diet.
Aardvarks have poor vision because their retinas contain only rods, which allow them to see at night, but leave them colorblind. They have a very acute sense of hearing and long ears that can be moved independently, as well as folded back and closed while tunneling. They also have an exceptional sense of smell due to structures in the nose that increase turbinal surface area, improving the detection of olfactory signals.
Photo credit: ©Thomas Retterath | Locality: Khwai River Lodge Airport, North-West, Botswana (2012)