Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford


  • Brandon Ferrell
  • Kristine O. EvansEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_838-1



The aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a burrowing quadruped nocturnal mammal that can be found across sub-Saharan Africa. People often mistakenly identify aardvarks as anteaters, and while ants are a primary part of their diet, aardvarks are a different taxonomic grouping and the only extant species in the order Tubulidentata. Aardvarks are an extremely reclusive species and are rarely observed in the wild. African folklore states that sighting an aardvark twice in your lifetime will lead to a long and happy existence (Knothig 2005).

The name aardvark originates from “aarde” meaning earth and “vark” meaning pig. The name is derived from the Afrikaans language, a language derived from Dutch. The scientific name Orycteropus afer is derived from Greek and can roughly be translated to “digger foot of Africa.”


Aardvarks have large bodies with elongated heads and very small necks. They are nocturnal animals that live in dug burrows...

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  1. Brewer, D. (2003). Aardvarks. In Mammals (1-59084-467-X) (p. 12). Mason Crest Publishers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=f5h&AN=9385417&site=eds-live&custid=magn1307
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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Veterinary MedicineMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  2. 2.Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and AquacultureMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Mystera M. Samuelson
    • 1
  1. 1.The Institute for Marine Mammal StudiesGulfportUSA