National Aardvark Week is celebrated every second week of March and this year will be marked from March 5 to 11. The week celebrates this large nocturnal member of the animal kingdom which is predominantly found in Africa. Aardvarks have interesting features: they have ears like those of rabbits, tails like those of kangaroos, and a diet similar to an anteater’s. Though they may be mistaken as close relatives of anteaters and elephants, the truth is that they are not. Read on to learn more about this burrowing mammal.
History of National Aardvark Week
Aardvarks eat termites and ants, which is why they are commonly mistaken as anteaters. But there is no connection between the two animals. Interestingly, aardvarks are considered special and ‘living fossils’ because theirs is the only surviving species in the ‘orycteropodidae’ family. Anteaters, on the other hand, are more closely related to sloths.
Aardvarks are mostly native to Africa — with a broad range across the continent, except the Sahara Desert in the north. In comparison, anteaters are found in Central or South America. It is also significant that the aardvark population is directly linked to the termite population, with the former taking a hit if the latter decreases. Aardvarks are not endangered, though it is unlikely that you will ever see one. This is because they are nocturnal, coming out at night, and staying inside their cool burrows during the day. This may also be why aardvarks are such shy animals. In the animal kingdom, the aardvark — which can live up to 23 years in captivity — is categorized as a keystone species because it is an ‘ecosystem engineer.’
Many species and organisms are dependent on the burrows dug by aardvarks, and they keep the termite and ant populations under control. In the foreseeable future, the only factor affecting aardvarks is the intense drought which could be widespread owing to the drastically changing climate. We hope more studies will be conducted to learn about how the aardvark will cope with the changing weather patterns.
National Aardvark Week timeline
Aardvark fossils date back about five million years.
The puppet Otis, an aardvark, is featured on BBC’s children's shows.
The children's cartoon series “Arthur” features a family of aardvarks.
A 30-meter-long sculpture of an aardvark named ‘Feestaardvarken’ is created in Arnhem, Holland.
National Aardvark Week FAQs
Is an aardvark a pig?
No, it’s not a pig nor is it a relative of pigs.
Can an aardvark be a pet?
An aardvark will likely not make a good pet because of its nocturnal nature and burrowing habits.
Are aardvarks and anteaters the same?
No, aardvarks and anteaters are different animals although they are both mammals.
National Aardvark Week Activities
Visit the zoo
Aardvarks can be viewed in 30 zoos across the U.S. If you happen to pass by a zoo or you live near one, go visit and see an aardvark!
Throw an aardvark-themed watch party
Watch your favorite cartoons and entertainment shows featuring aardvarks. This is especially fun if you have children in the house.
Donate for a cause
Donate to an organization doing research studies on aardvarks. It makes all the difference.
5 Interesting Facts About The Aardvark
It has quite an appetite
Every individual aardvark eats an estimated 30,000 ants in a single night.
Its gender is difficult to determine
An aardvark’s gender is very difficult to identify at birth.
It’s the first word in the dictionary
Aardvark is the first word in the English dictionary.
It has night vision
An aardvark can see at night, though it is color-blind.
It has a very long tongue
An aardvark’s tongue measures 30 cm long.
Why We Love National Aardvark Week
Aardvarks are ‘ecosystem engineers’
Aardvarks play an important role in sustaining our ecosystem. Besides, who else would be eating most of the ants and termites?
Research is important
Aardvarks aren’t endangered, but it is important to learn more about them and ensure that they remain this way. Besides, research on every topic is beneficial, so why not include aardvarks?
We love animal holidays
Any reason to celebrate animals is enough for us to love the holiday. And a week-long celebration is even better! Animals are sentient creatures. We may not like them for their appearance, but we should know that they have a role and purpose, and so they should be appreciated if not loved.
National Aardvark Week dates