The Aardwolf

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The Aardwolf

On first appearance, the Aardwolf has often been mistaken for a striped hyena, but is half their size and the markings on their body are much more regular than the striped hyeneas. A close relative of the civet family (small, lithe mammals native to Asia and Africa), the Aardwolf, Proteles cristata, is a family-orientated mammal from Africa.

Physical Description:

The Aardwolf is built slightly larger than that of a jackal or a fox. From head to toe, the Aardwolf measures 0.95 m (0.85-1.05 m) and stands 0.475 m (0.45-0.5 m) at the shoulder. Body weights will vary from season to season with the availability of food, but the average weight of these creatures is about 8 – 10 kg. There is very little difference between males and females and there have been records of body masses reaching 14 kg in East Africa.

The undercoat of the Aardwolf varies but an off-white colour is typical. The throat and the under-parts are generally a different colour, typically a greyish white. Running across the body are three vertical stripes and one or two stripes running diagonally across the fore- and hindquarters. Darker, random stripes run across the legs which then meld into solid coloured feet. There are Aardwolves who have dark spots or stripes across their necks.

Diet and Foraging:

The Aardwolf has a much different diet from that of hyenas since they have much weaker jaws and teeth. Their diet seems to consist mainly of a local nasute harvester termite (genus Trinervitermes). In South Africa the preference is for T. trinervoides, T. rhodesiensis in Zimbabwe and Botswana and T. bettonianus in East Africa.

The Aardwolf prefers to forage on its own and even when a male and female are a mated pair, each are solitary foragers. When an adult Aardwolf is foraging, the only company that will be accepted is an unweened offspring.

These creatures lick the termites off the ground, unlike that of the Aardvark who digs for its food. With their long, sticky tongues, one Aardwolf can consume up to 300,000 termites in a single day.

Social Behavior:

The Aardwolf is a mainly nocturnal animal, since their main source of sustenance is more active at night. A mated pair will occupy a permanent territory with their current litter. After a year, the offspring will move out of the area around the same time the next litter is born.

An Aardwolf will mark its territory by secreting emissions from the anal glands on grass stalks. This is done by both males and females, although males do this more often than females.

Quiet by nature, the Aardwolf will produce a clucking sound and a deep growl or roar at intruders.

Reproduction:

Mating will usually occur around the first two weeks in July and females are extremely promiscuous with alpha males. Copulation can take up to four hours and the gestation period is around 91 days. A female will produce a litter of around 4 cubs.

References:

http://www.hyaenidae.org/the-hyaenidae/aardwolf-proteles-cristatus.html

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