Aardvark vs. Anteater

What's the Difference?

Aardvarks and anteaters are both fascinating creatures that share some similarities but also have distinct differences. Firstly, both animals are known for their long snouts and tongues, which they use to feed on insects. However, aardvarks primarily eat ants and termites, while anteaters focus solely on ants. Another difference lies in their physical appearance. Aardvarks have a stocky build with a thick, armored skin, while anteaters have a slender body covered in coarse fur. Additionally, aardvarks are native to Africa, while anteaters are found in Central and South America. Despite these disparities, both animals have adapted to their environments and play crucial roles in their respective ecosystems.


Photo by Juan Gomez on Unsplash
Scientific NameOrycteropus aferMyrmecophaga tridactyla
DietInsects, termites, antsAnts, termites
Size1.0-1.3 m (3.3-4.3 ft)1.2-2.4 m (3.9-7.9 ft)
Weight40-65 kg (88-143 lb)33-50 kg (73-110 lb)
AppearanceLong snout, large ears, tubular bodyLong snout, bushy tail, slender body
Special AdaptationsPowerful digging claws, sticky tongueLong sticky tongue, sharp claws
Photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash

Further Detail


When it comes to unique and intriguing animals, the aardvark and the anteater are two species that immediately come to mind. While they may share some similarities, they also possess distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will delve into the world of these fascinating creatures, exploring their physical characteristics, habitats, diets, and behaviors.

Physical Characteristics

Both the aardvark and the anteater have distinct physical features that make them easily recognizable. The aardvark, also known as Orycteropus afer, is a medium-sized mammal with a stocky body, a long snout, and large, rabbit-like ears. It has a coarse, yellowish-brown fur that provides camouflage in its natural habitat. On the other hand, the anteater, belonging to the family Myrmecophagidae, has a slender body covered in coarse hair. Its most prominent feature is its elongated snout, which it uses to extract ants and termites from their nests.


While both the aardvark and the anteater are primarily terrestrial animals, they inhabit different regions of the world. Aardvarks are native to sub-Saharan Africa, where they can be found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, savannas, and woodlands. They are nocturnal creatures, spending their days in burrows that they dig using their powerful claws. Anteaters, on the other hand, are found in Central and South America. They prefer tropical rainforests, grasslands, and swamps, where they can easily locate their preferred food source - ants and termites.


When it comes to their diets, the aardvark and the anteater have one significant similarity - they both feed on insects. However, their feeding techniques and preferences differ. Aardvarks are specialized insectivores, primarily consuming ants and termites. They use their long, sticky tongues to capture their prey, which they then grind with their powerful molars. Anteaters, as their name suggests, have a diet solely consisting of ants and termites. They use their sharp claws to tear open termite mounds and anthills, and their long tongues, which can extend up to two feet, to lap up the insects. It's worth noting that anteaters can consume thousands of insects in a single day!


When it comes to behavior, both the aardvark and the anteater exhibit interesting traits. Aardvarks are solitary animals, only coming together for mating purposes. They are primarily nocturnal, spending their nights foraging for food and their days resting in their burrows. Aardvarks are excellent diggers, capable of creating extensive burrow systems that provide protection from predators and extreme temperatures. Anteaters, on the other hand, are also solitary creatures, but they are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day. They have a slow and deliberate walking pace, using their sharp claws for balance and defense. When threatened, anteaters can rear up on their hind legs and use their powerful forelimbs to strike potential predators.


Reproduction in both the aardvark and the anteater follows different patterns. Aardvarks have a relatively long gestation period of around seven months, after which a single offspring, known as a cub, is born. The cub remains in the mother's burrow for several weeks before venturing out. Aardvark cubs are weaned at around three months old but may stay with their mother for up to a year. Anteaters, on the other hand, have a shorter gestation period of around six months, after which a single pup is born. The pup clings to its mother's back for the first few months of its life, only becoming independent after approximately nine months.


In conclusion, while the aardvark and the anteater may share some similarities, such as their insect-based diets, they also possess distinct attributes that make them unique. From their physical characteristics to their habitats, diets, behaviors, and reproductive patterns, these fascinating creatures have evolved to thrive in their respective environments. Whether you find yourself captivated by the aardvark's burrowing abilities or the anteater's impressive tongue, both species offer a glimpse into the incredible diversity of the animal kingdom.

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