The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Shrew
Story Of The Tenrec
Story Of The Rabbit
Story Of The Chamois
Story Of The Duckbill
Story Of The Peccary
Story Of The Linsang
Story Of The Aard-vark
Story Of The Gorilla
Story Of The Weasel
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Story Of The Aardvark
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
When in South Africa among the Boers, I frequently shot those ugly and ungainly animals the Boers call aardvarks, or, in English, earth-pigs. It is not always easy to get a shot at one, for they are keen of hearing, and rush to their burrows at the slightest unusual sound. When unable to reach their burrows, they dig into the ground where they happen to be, and they are so powerful that they can soon sink their large bodies out of sight even when the ground is hard and sun-baked.
The body of the aardvark, which is usually almost naked, but sometimes thinly clad with bristly hairs, is heavy and ungainly. The long muzzle of the head is almost a trunk; the ears are of great length, and the tongue can be extended like that of the pangolin, although it is not so worm-like. The skin is of remarkable thickness, its general color being yellowish brown, with a tinge of red on the back and sides, while the head and under-parts are light reddish yellow ; and the hind-quarters, the root of the tail, and the limbs brown. A full-grown aardvark measures a little over six feet in total length.
The teeth of the aardvark differ from those of any other known animal. The Cape aardvark inhabits South and South-Eastern Africa; it is replaced in North-Eastern Africa by the Ethiopian aardvark; the former being distinguished by the thicker coating of hair, more especially on the back and flanks, as well as by the thicker and shorter tail, and the longer head and ears.
The aardvarks feed exclusively on termites and ants. In South Africa their deep burrows are generally constructed in the neighborhood of the tall mounds formed by the termites; and, in the old days, before these animals were hunted for their skins, it used to be said that wherever termite-hills were numerous, there an aardvark might confidently be expected. Wherever these animals are abundant, a number of half-formed holes are seen in the ground and on the sides of the ant-hills, which have been commenced and abandoned. Aardvarks usually spend the whole of the day asleep in their burrows, but
may occasionally be seen abroad in the early morning. In digging, they work with their fore-feet, and throw out huge clods of earth between their hind-legs. But little definitely is known as to their breeding-habits, although it has been ascertained that the Ethiopian species gives birth during May or June to a single offspring. At birth the young is naked and flesh-colored; and is suckled by its parent for a long period.