Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Meet the Aardwolf

Although its name makes it sound like a combination of an aardvark and a wolf, the aardwolf is actually a type of hyena that lives in two distinct ranges in southern and eastern Africa.
Photo: Dominik Käuferle
At only about 30lbs, aardwolves are much smaller than other hyenas and are only a little larger than an average fox. Their peculiar name comes from their feeding habits. Aardwolves feed almost exclusively on termites, using their long and sticky tongues to root them out of the ground. Although they will rarely hunt small birds and mammals, termites make up over 90% of the aardwolf’s diet; a single animal can consume up to 300,000 of them in a night!

Unlike other hyenas, aardwolves are actually beneficial to farmers. They aren’t attracted to carrion, they’re too small to kill livestock and their copious termite consumption helps control insect populations. Though their population is small and their range is extremely limited, aardwolves are not in decline and are not currently considered threatened.

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