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date: 29 March 2020


Carnivorous mammal of southern and eastern Africa, closely related to the hyena.


The aardwolf, whose name in Afrikaans means “earth wolf,” stands 45 to 50 cm (18 to 20 in) high at the shoulder, has a body length of 50 to 80 cm (27 to 31 in) long, and is covered with long, coarse hair and soft underfur. It is light buff in color, with black bands. At night it leaves its burrow, traveling singly or in a group, to forage for insects, especially termites. When attacked, the aardwolf erects its mane, achieving a formidable appearance, and ejects a foul-smelling fluid from its anal glands. Having weak jaws and small teeth, however, it must use its sharp canines to fight off such enemies as the dog. Toward December the female aardwolf finds a burrow and bears a litter of one to five young.

The aardwolf is classified as Proteles cristatus It is usually placed in the hyena family Hyaenidae Some experts ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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