Aardvarks vs. Anteaters

What's the Difference?

Aardvarks and anteaters are both fascinating creatures, but they have distinct differences. Aardvarks are native to Africa, while anteaters are found in Central and South America. Aardvarks have a stocky build with a long snout, while anteaters have a slender body and an elongated snout. Aardvarks primarily feed on ants and termites, using their strong claws to dig into anthills, while anteaters have a specialized tongue and snout to consume ants and termites. Additionally, aardvarks are nocturnal animals, while anteaters are diurnal. Despite these differences, both animals have evolved unique adaptations to thrive in their respective habitats.


Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
Scientific NameOrycteropus aferMyrmecophaga tridactyla
HabitatAfrican savannas and forestsSouth and Central American forests and grasslands
DietPrimarily ants and termitesPrimarily ants and termites
Size1.0 to 1.3 meters long1.2 to 2.2 meters long
Weight40 to 65 kilograms33 to 50 kilograms
AppearanceGrayish-brown with a long snout and large earsGrayish with a long snout and bushy tail
Special AdaptationsPowerful claws for digging burrowsLong sticky tongue for catching ants and termites
Photo by Nareeta Martin on Unsplash

Further Detail


When it comes to unique and intriguing animals, aardvarks and anteaters 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 aardvarks and anteaters, exploring their physical characteristics, habitats, diets, and behaviors. By the end, you will have a deeper understanding of these remarkable creatures.

Physical Characteristics

Both aardvarks and anteaters have distinct physical features that make them easily recognizable. Aardvarks, native to Africa, are medium-sized mammals with a stocky build. They have a long snout, which is their most prominent feature, used for sniffing out food. Their bodies are covered in coarse hair, and they have large, erect ears. Aardvarks also possess strong claws on their forelimbs, which they use for digging burrows.

On the other hand, anteaters, found in Central and South America, have a slender body shape and long snouts as well. However, their snouts are much longer and more tubular compared to aardvarks. Anteaters also have a bushy tail and long, curved claws on their forelimbs, which they use for climbing trees and tearing open termite mounds. Their bodies are covered in coarse hair, providing them with some protection against predators.


Aardvarks are primarily found in sub-Saharan Africa, inhabiting a range of environments including savannas, grasslands, and woodlands. They are nocturnal creatures, spending their days in underground burrows that they dig themselves. These burrows provide them with shelter from the heat and predators, as well as a safe place to raise their young.

Anteaters, on the other hand, are native to the tropical forests and grasslands of Central and South America. They are excellent climbers and spend most of their time in trees, using their strong claws to navigate branches and search for food. Anteaters are also known to make nests in tree hollows or abandoned burrows, where they rest during the day and give birth to their young.


When it comes to their diets, aardvarks and anteaters have some similarities but also notable differences. Aardvarks are insectivores, primarily feeding on ants and termites. They use their long, sticky tongue to capture their prey, and their powerful claws to break open termite mounds or ant hills. Aardvarks can consume thousands of insects in a single night, making them crucial for controlling insect populations in their habitats.

Anteaters, as their name suggests, primarily feed on ants and termites as well. However, they have a more specialized diet compared to aardvarks. Anteaters have a unique tongue that can extend up to two feet in length, allowing them to reach deep into termite mounds or ant nests. They have no teeth, so they rely on their long tongue and powerful jaws to extract their prey. Anteaters can consume up to 30,000 insects in a single day, making them highly efficient insect hunters.


Both aardvarks and anteaters are solitary animals, preferring to live and hunt alone. Aardvarks are primarily nocturnal, emerging from their burrows at night to search for food. They have a keen sense of smell, which helps them locate termite mounds or ant hills. Aardvarks are also excellent diggers, capable of excavating burrows with impressive speed and efficiency.

Anteaters, on the other hand, are diurnal creatures, meaning they are active during the day. They spend a significant amount of time in trees, using their sharp claws to climb and search for insects. Anteaters have poor eyesight but compensate for it with their acute sense of smell. They can detect the scent of ants or termites from a considerable distance, allowing them to locate their next meal with precision.


In conclusion, aardvarks and anteaters are fascinating creatures with unique attributes that make them stand out in the animal kingdom. While aardvarks are found in Africa and have a stocky build, anteaters inhabit Central and South America and possess a slender body shape. Both species have long snouts and rely on their powerful claws to obtain their primary food source, ants and termites. Aardvarks are nocturnal and live in burrows, while anteaters are diurnal and spend their time in trees. Despite their differences, both aardvarks and anteaters play important roles in their respective ecosystems, contributing to the delicate balance of nature.

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