Animal of the Month
July 2017

Name: Aardwolf

Scientific Name: Proteles cristata

Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Eutheria
Order: Carnivora
Family: Hyaenidae
Subfamily: Protelinae
Genus: Proteles
Species: P. cristata

Size: Roughly 3 feet long and 1.5 feet at the shoulder
Weight: Around 17.6-22 lbs

Characteristics: Canine in appearance. Fluffy, especially along the neck and tail. Small legs, a black snout, large eyes and very large bat-like ears.
Color(s): Tan with black stripes, black legs and a tan and black tail.
Behavior: Nocturnal, lives in mated pairs
Preferred Habitat: Grasslands, savannah, scrubland, rocky areas and partially wooded environments. Lives in underground burrows.
Range: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, southern Angola, southern Zambia, southwestern Mozambique, central Tanzania, northeastern Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, the coast of Ethiopia and Sudan, and the southeastern corner of Egypt
Diet: Termites
Lifespan: About 14 years

Status: Least Concern

A lesser-known cousin of the hyena, aardwolves live through out southern and eastern Africa. Like hyenas they are more closely related to felines rather than canines. Unlike hyenas, which are carnivorous, aardwolves are insectivores and feast almost exclusively on termites. They begin their day late in the afternoon and well into the night. Aardwolves live in regions of grassland, scrubland, rocky terrain and partial forest, but not total forest or desert. They seem to favor regions that receive between100 and 800 mm of rain per year.

Aardwolves live in fiercely guarded territories of .06 to 2.4 kilometers squared depending on the availability of termites. The can make clucking sounds, deep growls or roars, all of which are usually directed toward predators or intruders. Aardwolves will live in monogamous pairs, however they will often mate with other individuals. Mating occurs in early July and females will give birth to 1-4 cubs between October and December. The cubs will emerge from the den about a month after birth and gradually begin to forage away from the den. Males will protect cubs from predators. The aardwolf's main nemesis is the black- backed jackal (Canis mesomelas).

Aardwolves are strong in numbers and are not in danger of going extinct. However, aardwolves are greatly affected by insecticides that are used on locust swarms. Many aardwolves are also killed each year due to irrational fears that they threaten livestock. Aardwolves are not threats to people or livestock and should be given their space in the wild. Responsibility should be used in pest management so that the least damage possible is dealt to the ecosystem.

Want to know more?

Read up on aardwolves and their hyena cousins at the Hyena Specialist Group


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