Behavior And Reproduction
Aardvarks are solitary creatures, they prefer to live alone and have never been found in large numbers. Because they are nocturnal, nighttime, animals, they are not seen very often. In the warmer seasons, they come out of their burrows just after the sun sets. They are able to hunt and forage, gather food, even if it is a moonless night because they rely on their sense of smell to locate termites. Aardvarks cover 1.2 to 3 miles (2 to 5 kilometers) each night at a rate of 1,640 feet (500 meters) per hour.
When searching for food, aardvarks move about in a zigzag formation with their noses to the ground. It is thought that the fleshy tentacles, hair-like growths, around the nostrils might actually be chemical receptors that help find food.
Aardvarks are known for their digging abilities. In fact, aardvarks can dig a burrow 3.3 feet (1 meter) deep faster than a group of six adults with shovels!
The mating season of the aardvark varies. In some areas, mating occurs between April and May, with offspring born in October or November. In other regions, offspring are born in May or June. Females carry their offspring for seven months before giving birth, and they bear only one offspring with each pregnancy. The baby weighs approximately 4 pounds (2 kilograms). Newborn aardvarks are hairless with pink, tender skin. They remain in the burrow with their mothers for two weeks. After two weeks they follow their mothers in the nightly search for food. The infant aardvark does not eat solid food until around three months, preferring its mother's milk until that time.
Aardvarks move away from the mother's den after six months and build burrows a few feet (meters) away, but they continue to forage together. Male aardvarks leave their mothers completely during the next mating season, but females stay with mothers until the birth of the next baby. Male aardvarks roam while females remain in a consistent home range. Because of this, experts believe aardvarks to be polygamous (puh-LIH-guh-mus), having more than one mating partner.
Humans are not the only hunters of aardvarks. Lions, leopards, and hyenas are the main predators, animals that hunt them for food, of aardvarks. Pythons feed on young aardvarks as well. When they sense danger, aardvarks retreat to the nearest hole. If a hole is not nearby, they use their powerful claws to dig one. The claws push the dirt backwards while the tail sweeps it away. In the event they cannot get to safety, aardvarks will lie on their back and fight with all four feet.