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Aardvark: A Wild Animal Love!

Updated on March 19, 2015
Aardvark Print
Aardvark Print | Source

Long snout, eats ants? Aardvark, I think we met last year at Cannes...

Aardvark! One of the most peculiar-looking animals you'll find anywhere on Earth...

Ever since I was a wee child, rooting through the dictionary - for lack of anything else to read on a rainy day at Great Aunt's house - I've been fascinated by the whole idea of the aardvark. It started with the name, of course. How strange, the word aardvark, to start with a double letter!

Aardvark: noun a nocturnal, insectivorous mammal, Orycteropus afer, with large ears, a long snout, and a long tongue, native to sub-Saharan Africa. [Afrikaans from aarde earth vark pig] — Canadian Oxford Dictionary

And I can still remember the black-and-white line drawing in the dictionary, showing this odd-looking Aardvark, an exotic animal so different from anything we'd see outside of a zoo here in Canada. It all led to a life-long fascination with the aardvark - strange but true!

Aardvark at a Chicago Zoo

Aardvark sleeping in a blue bucket at Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Aardvark sleeping in a blue bucket at Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois, USA | Source

About the Aardvark

What kind of strange animal is the Aardvark?

Aardvarks can weigh between 88 to 143 pounds, stand 24 inches high at the shoulder, and live up to 23 years in captivity.

Aardvarks are also known as antbears. They are sometimes confused with the South American anteater, because they look very much like those long-nosed sticky-tongued insect-eating mammals of the family Myrmecophagidae and both eat ants and termites.

Stop running with scissors, Aardvark!
Stop running with scissors, Aardvark! | Source

Aardvark Predators

When Bad Things Happen to Good Aardvarks

According to the African Wildlife Federation, the adult aardvark's main predators are humans (who sometimes kill it for meat), lions, hyenas and leopards. Young aardvarks are also eaten by pythons.

Aardvark flesh is relished as a tasty meal by several African tribes, and many parts of the aardvark body are used as charms.

Aardvark teeth (!!!) are believed to prevent illness and bad luck... but having his own set of teeth does not seem to bring very good luck to the hunted aardvark, does it?

Aardvarks at the London Zoo

Aardvarks at the London Zoo, Regent's Park, London, UK.
Aardvarks at the London Zoo, Regent's Park, London, UK. | Source

Aardvark Vocabulary

We looked up the big words, so you don't have to.

Afrikaans = the native language of the Afrikaner people, white South Africans of Dutch descent. The Afrikaans language developed from Dutch, and it is an official language of the Republic of South Africa.

Insectivorous = insect-eating

Mammal = any one of the group of warm-blooded vertebrates (animals with a backbone) Mammalia, named for the mammary or milk glands. All female mammals feed their young with milk.

Nocturnal = active at night

Predator = animal that preys on (hunts or kills) others for food

Sub-Saharan Africa = that part of the continent of Africa that lies south of (sub below) the Sahara Desert.

The Sahara is the largest desert in the world, a vast area of dry, sand-covered land that covers some 3.5 million square miles — it stretches from the Atlantic Ocean east to the Red Sea, and from the Mediterranean and the Atlas Mountains south to the Sudan.

Sub-Saharan Africa is more tropical in climate, hot and humid and teeming with interesting forms of life — like the aardvark!

Adopt an Aardvark
Adopt an Aardvark | Source

Adopt an Aardvark

Did you know? You can virtually adopt a real aardvark to keep it living in safety and style through the Omaha Zoo Foundation's Adopt-an-Animal program.

Aardvark adoption pledge amounts start at just $25, which will get you

  • a 4" x 6" photo of your adopted aardvark,
  • a fun factsheet, and
  • a personalized certificate of adoption.

So much easier than trying to figure out where to keep an aardvark in your own home -- even if it were legal, which it's not in most places, since aardvarks are wild animals. And also, not a small consideration, it'll be the zoo's problem of how to catch enough ants to keep an aardvark happy!

Or... Adopt a Plush Aardvark Toy

Quiet and easily housetrained, the stuffed toy Aardvarks offer an advantage over real live animals as pets in that they don't eat much or shed on the furniture. And if you accidentally sit on one, nothing too unpleasant is likely to happen.

Soft Corduroy Aardvark

Sweet Potato Large Plush Aardvark with Cream Belly
Sweet Potato Large Plush Aardvark with Cream Belly

If you think a real live Aardvark is silly-looking but kinda cute, you'll fall in love (okay, well, at least I did) with this two-tone soft toy made of super soft wide wale corduroy in shades of cream and warm brown. This enchanting Aardvark is 15 inches tall.

 

Silly Plush Stuffed Animal Toy Aardvarks

How rare and delightful, to see the fine folks at Ganz (the company behind the highly-collectible Webkinz toys) paying homage to the noble aardvark. This cute little 14.5-inch Webkinz stuffed plush aardvark (or any other critter in the series, for that matter) comes with its own special code to give you access to Webkinz World, "an online world for the young at heart." There, you can name and adopt your Webkinz aardvark, learn more about it, chat with others in the virtual community, play games online, and much more!

Webkinz Aardvark

Webkinz Aardvark January Pet Of The Month
Webkinz Aardvark January Pet Of The Month

If you've got a young Webkinz fan on your gift list, or someone you think might enjoy the interactive experience of plush Aardvark ownership that comes with the Webkinz line, here's your chance to make a hit with the perfect gift.

 

The extra nosey aardvark ... loves to play at recess and its favorite spot is the anthill thrill pit. If you adopt the aardvark, make sure it eats some healthy vegetables along with its favorite creamy termite delight desserts.

Realistic Plush Aardvark

Realistic Stuffed Plush Toy Aardvark by Hansa
Realistic Stuffed Plush Toy Aardvark by Hansa | Source

The Most Realistic Stuffed Aardvark ... Except for Taxidermy

Stuffed Ark has a couple of aardvarks and a couple more anteaters, but I do believe this 21-inch plush aardvark is the pick of the litter. *

* Hmm, do aardvarks have litters? Note to self - find out!

If you're familiar with the high quality of European plush toys, you will be able to well imagine the well-stitched seams and thick plush that we expect from Hansa manufacture.

Make Your Own Stuffed Aardvark Toy

Artie Aardvark from Funky Friends Factory

Artie is a very sweet, snugly little critter that your kids will love to drag around by his tail, say his creators. This pattern is available as an instant download from the Funky Friends Factory store on Etsy ($12.99 at this writing). The pattern package includes:

  • Ready to print pattern (no need to resize) in PDF format
  • A colour picture of the completed Funky Friend toy
  • A full list of material requirements
  • Layout diagram
  • Easy to follow instructions

The finished toy size is 16" (40 cm) from snout to tail, and can be made of just about any fabric. This project is a great use for remnants you can pick up from the remainder bin, cut price, when shopping FabricVille for your next sewing project - or what about using a child's old worn-out favourite "blankie" to sew up Artie, as a fun way to preserve memories of childhood?

Amigurumi Aardvark Crochet Pattern
Amigurumi Aardvark Crochet Pattern

Amigurumi Aardvark Crochet Pattern

Big thanks to our friend Angela for the tip on this adorable Amigurumi Aardvark Crochet Pattern, an original design by June Gilbank of PlanetJune.

The cute little "earth pig" comes in at about 13.5 inches, crocheted with worsted weight yarn. At $5.00, the Amigurumi Aardvark pattern is a real bargain for crafty aardvark fans!

More Patterns?

I'm always on the look-out for sewing, knitting, or crochet patterns to maked stuffed Aardvark toys (it's fun, and they always go like hotcakes at the charity bazaars and craft sales - if you don't give away all the long-nosed cuddlers as gifts to yearning friends before it is time for the annual bazaar!

So if you've come across an excellent Aardvark pattern that can be got online, please drop a note in the comments section (guestbook) at the end of the page and let me know? Thanks!

Aardvark  black and white art print
Aardvark black and white art print

Aardvarks - More Than Just an Anteater

Aarvarks in Popular Culture

Aarvarks have a firm place in popular culture, even in areas where the Aardvark has never lived wild. Perhaps it's the comical long nose... or the name with a double-vowel at the front?

To get the first listing in the telephone directory, companies choose AARDVARK for a business name almost as often as they go the Triple-A route.

But read on, and you'll see that the Noble AArdvark has stolen our collective hearts in many other artistic and cultural pursuits... from music to art... from conventional fiction to graphic novels... and beyond!

Aardvarks in Children's Literature - Lots more than just Arthur the Aardvark!

There's more to aardvarks in kids' books than just that annoying little Arthur the Aardvark dweeb. Surprisingly, there are quite a few wonderful books for children that feature our long-nosed aardvark friends. Here's my current favorite.

Awkward Aardvark - African Animal Tales
Awkward Aardvark - African Animal Tales

Awkward Aardvark

African Animal Tales for Children

This charming story of why the Aardvark sleeps in the daytime, as told by Mwalimu, is one of the African Animal Tales series of children's books so beautifully illustrated by Adrienne Kennaway.

Mwalimu is the pseudonym of journalist and novelist Peter Upton and this 2005 publication was his first book for children.

Born in New Zealand and raised in Kenya, Adrienne Kennaway trained at the Ealing School of Art (London) and L'Academia de Belle Arte (Rome) and now lives in Ireland when she's not travelling the world. Her full-page watercolours in the African Animal Tales books, full of humour and character, bring these stories to vivid life. Her illustrations for Crafty Chameleon won the Kate Greenaway Medal, awarded each year by children's librarians for "an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people."

OK, Here is Arthur the Aardvark

If you're a true-blue dyed-in-the-wool Aardvark fan - whether or not you have children - you will have at least a passing familiarity with our little friend Arthur the Aardvark, the strangely nose-deficient aardvark of storybook fame. Perhaps you've even watched Arthur on television? IF so, here's a video to bring back warm memories.


Arthur the Aardvark TV Show Opening Theme

A Selection of Other Aardvarks - Just for Fun

Here are a few other interesting aardvark links I've found in my travels...

Best-Ever Aardvark T-Shirt for Geeky Girls

Aardvark Tee Shirts by McLean23
Aardvark Tee Shirts by McLean23 | Source

This erudite Aardvark t-shirt by Zazzle artist McLean23 says:

"Aardvark : n. a ridiculous-looking creature, known primarily for no other reason than that its name appears first in most dictionaries "

above a lovely vintage woodcut illustration of what appears to be an aardvark hunting for ants. Or perhaps it's just mediatating on a blade of grass - you decide.

A quick search at Zazzle.com shows that our long-nosed, sticky-tongue, ant-eating double-A friend (talking about you, Aardvark!) is a popular subject for the independent artists - both pro and eager amateur - who share their creativity on the international print-on-demand shop.

No surprise, really - once you start looking around for unusual Aardvark incarnations, it's not hard to turn up a few truly interesting, useful, or at least amusing links.

Aardvark Fans, speak up - what's missing? What are your most urgent questions about the aardvark animal and its lifestyle, or about the place of the aardvark in popular culture? (We already know it's place in most dictionaries!) I'm up for the challenge! Just give me a quest to find your aardvark goodies, and I'll put my nose to the ground for you!

The Aardvark's Guestbook - Go ahead, Stick Your Nose In :)

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    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 3 years ago from Ljubljana

      Funny creatures. Would be interesting to have one for a pet. I bet celebrities already have them!

    • EMangl profile image

      EMangl 4 years ago

      i want one :-)

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 4 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      Fun lens! I haven't thought about aardvarks in forever. They soloist seem like science fiction. Love the baby aardvark

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 5 years ago

      LOL "When bad things happen to goof aardvarks" TOO FUNNY Thanks for the great article and some laughs.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      Hey there ... please send that aardvark over to my place ... they can dine on all the ants they like.

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