Aardwolf (Proteles cristata)

Morphology (physical characteristics)

The aardwolf looks most like the Striped Hyena, but is significantly smaller with a more slender muzzle, sharper ears utilized in the hunt for harvester termites, black vertical stripes on a coat of yellowish fur, and a long, distinct mane down the middle line of the neck and back, which is raised during a confrontation to make the aardwolf's size appear bigger. It is 55–80 cm long, excluding its bushy 20–30 cm tail, stands about 40–50 cm at the shoulder, and weighs between 9 and 14 kg. Its front feet have 5 toes, unlike other hyenas which have four toes. Its teeth and skull are similar to that of the hyena, although the cheek teeth are specialised for eating insects, and its tongue for licking them up. As the aardwolf ages, it will normally lose some of its teeth, though this has little impact on their feeding habits due to the soft nature of the insects they consume. It has two glands at the rear that secrete a musky fluid for marking territory and communicating with other aardwolves.


The aardwolf lives on open, dry plains and bushland, while avoiding mountainous areas. Termites of this family depend on dead and withered grass and are most popular in heavily grazed grasslands and Savannah, including farmland. For most of the year, aardwolves spend time in shared territories consisting of up to a dozen dens which are occupied for six weeks at a time. There are two distinct populations: one in Southern Africa, and another in East and Northeast Africa. The species does not occur in the intermediary Miombo forests.


The Aardwolf has many adaptations. One adaption is having bigger ears than hyenas so they can here better and know where the termites are by listening. They also have long and sticky tongues that they use to get the termites out of the holes that they are in. Aardwolfs are very small and are shy animals compared to it's bigger and more aggressive cousin the hyena.

Fun Facts

Aardwolves can consume 200,00 harvest termites in one night.

Aardwolves can also be called Earth Wolf.


Aardwolves are solitary and nocturnal, and rest in burrows during the day. They share a territory of 1-4 square kilometres (the greater the availability of termites, the larger the territory). Despite the appearance of pureness, during the breeding season, neighbouring males may sneak a mating with other females.


Aardwolves may have 4-6 cubs in a period of 90 days. The males protect the cubs when the mother goes to look for food. At 6-8 weeks they start to come out of the den and after 9-11 weeks, the start to scavenger with their mother. At 16 weeks they become unatached and wander off a little more.




Human Use

Aardwolves are hunted for their meat and beautiful fur. Although they are not classified as endangered, their population is slowly decreasing. Farmers put pesticides mistaking them for their relative, the hyena.

Food Web

The Jackal is the main predator

of the Aardwolf

A black-backed jackal in Masaai Mara
A black-backed jackal in Masaai Mara

The Aardwolf

Image:Proteles cristatus1.jpg
Image:Proteles cristatus1.jpg

Termites are the main insect

Aardwolves eat

external image termites2.jpg

Fruits are at the bottom of the

food chain


Jackal to Aardwolf to Termites to Fruit