Introduction: The name aardwolf (Proteles cristatus) is Afrikaans for earth wolf, and was given because the animal lives in a burrow in the ground. It is really an unusual type of hyena and whereas Hyaeninae have powerful jaws and strong teeth, the aardwolf's are small, weak and cone-shaped.

The aardwolf is unlike other hyena because it has 5 toes on its front feet, and 4 toes on each back foot. It is also smaller. They live alone, in pairs, or in family groups with 2 to 4 young. The aardwolf has a mane along the back, which it can raise to make itself look larger. They growl or roar when frightened and are predominantly nocturnal, making them very difficult to observe.

Distribution: They are widely distributed in Namibia, except in the coastal Namib Desert.

Diet: The aardwolf feeds chiefly on termites, which it laps up with its broad, sticky tongue.

Colouring: The background colour of the body varies from pale buffy to yellowish-white, although some individuals show more yellow than others. The hairs of the mane show as a broad, black band down the mid-back.

Breeding: Litters vary from 2 to 4 cubs, with the majority born during the warm, wet summer months from about October to February. Females litter down in holes in the ground that they adapt for their own uses.

Size: In outline the aardwolf is higher at the shoulders, some 51cm, than at the hindquarters. They measure about 90cm from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail. Females are slightly taller, but lighter.

Mammals of Namibia Wildlife of Namibia

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