Aardvark vs. Whale Shark

What's the Difference?

Aardvarks and whale sharks are both fascinating creatures, but they couldn't be more different in terms of appearance and behavior. Aardvarks are small, nocturnal mammals with long snouts and powerful claws for digging up ants and termites. In contrast, whale sharks are massive, filter-feeding fish that can grow up to 40 feet long and weigh several tons. While aardvarks are solitary animals that spend most of their time underground, whale sharks are known for their gentle nature and can often be found swimming in groups near the ocean's surface. Despite their differences, both animals play important roles in their respective ecosystems and are vital to the balance of their habitats.


Photo by Juan Gomez on Unsplash
AttributeAardvarkWhale Shark
SpeciesO. aferR. typus
Whale Shark
Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

Further Detail

Physical Attributes

Aardvarks are small to medium-sized mammals with a stocky build, long snouts, and large ears. They have a grayish-brown fur that helps them blend in with their surroundings. Aardvarks have strong claws that they use for digging burrows and searching for food. In contrast, Whale Sharks are the largest fish in the ocean, with a distinctive pattern of white spots and stripes on their blue-gray bodies. They have a wide mouth that can reach up to 4 feet wide, allowing them to filter feed on plankton and small fish.


Aardvarks are primarily found in sub-Saharan Africa, where they inhabit savannas, grasslands, and woodlands. They prefer areas with sandy soil that is easy to dig in for their burrows. Aardvarks are nocturnal animals, spending most of their time underground and coming out to forage for food at night. On the other hand, Whale Sharks are found in tropical and warm-temperate seas around the world. They are often seen in coastal areas near coral reefs where plankton is abundant. Whale Sharks are known to migrate long distances in search of food and suitable breeding grounds.


Aardvarks are insectivores, feeding primarily on ants and termites. They use their long, sticky tongues to lap up insects from underground tunnels and mounds. Aardvarks can consume thousands of insects in a single night, making them important for controlling insect populations in their habitats. In contrast, Whale Sharks are filter feeders, using their gills to sieve plankton and small fish from the water. They swim with their mouths open, allowing water to pass through their gills while trapping food particles on their gill rakers.


Aardvarks are solitary animals, coming together only to mate. They are known for their nocturnal habits, spending most of the day sleeping in their burrows and emerging at night to search for food. Aardvarks are excellent diggers, using their powerful claws to excavate burrows that can be up to 13 feet deep. On the other hand, Whale Sharks are often seen swimming in groups, especially during feeding frenzies when large numbers of plankton are present. They are known for their gentle nature and are often approached by divers and snorkelers without any signs of aggression.


Aardvarks have a gestation period of about 7 months, after which a single offspring is born. The young aardvark, called a calf, is born blind and hairless but quickly develops and grows under the care of its mother. Aardvark calves are weaned at around 6 months of age and become independent shortly after. In contrast, Whale Sharks are ovoviviparous, meaning that the eggs develop and hatch inside the mother's body before the live young are born. Female Whale Sharks can give birth to up to 300 pups at a time, but only a few survive to adulthood due to predation and other factors.

Conservation Status

Aardvarks are listed as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, as they are widespread and not currently facing any major threats. However, habitat loss and fragmentation due to human activities such as agriculture and urbanization are potential concerns for aardvark populations in the future. On the other hand, Whale Sharks are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, as they are threatened by bycatch in fisheries, habitat degradation, and the impacts of climate change. Conservation efforts are underway to protect Whale Sharks and their habitats from further decline.

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