Tuesday, January 18, 2011
ABC Wednesday: A is for...
Can you guess the animal? It's not a pig, although if you translate its name, it means earth pig. It has no close relatives, but it is related to elephants, manatis/dugongs and elephant shrews. If you want to know if you have guessed right,take a look behind the break:
It's an aardvark (the name is Afrikaans). The extremely elongated snout and the sticky tongue are an adaptation to its diet: ants and termites. Aardvarks are powerful diggers who can break open a termite mound without problems. heir thick skin makes them impervious to the insects' bites. They even sometimes sleep in ants nests they have just robbed.
They have four toes on their front legs, but five on their back legs. An aardvark weighs between 40 and 60 kilograms and including the tail, they can reach a length of over 2 metres.
They give birth to a single baby that stays with the mother for six months, sometimes a year. They can reach an age of 25 years in captivity. Aardvarks have a powerful sense of smell and very keen hearing, the big ears are useful to listen for predators such as leopards or lions while the aardvark is busy digging up an ants nest. They are also very fast runners and will try to run for cover into their burrow (or quickly dig a new one) if attacked. Once inside, they attack with their claws.
There are a few famous fictional aardvarks, for example Cerebus and Die blaue Elise (The blue Eliza). It it's original form (The Ant and the Aardvark), the aardvark was male and had no name, but for some reason in the German version it's female and named Elise. Probably due to the awesome voice acting of Marianne Wishmann (who also voiced the German Miss Piggy), the series developed a cult following here.
See what else A stands for with ABC Wednesday
Photos of the mounted aardvark were taken at the Zologisches Museum Hamburg, of the sleeping aardvark at Burgers Zoo.