The Aardwolf is the only
hyena which doesn't live on meat, hunting and scavenging but on termites.
He lives in South and Eastafrica. He has his ancestors in the roots of the hyenas, an animal called Plioviverrops, one of the very early hyena forms.
The Aardwolf lives on two different kinds of termites - the trinervitermess-termites and hodotermes-termites. The reason is, that the trinervitermess-termites don't come into the daylight in winter and so the Aardwolf has to adjust. In this time, in june, most of the adult Aardwolves loose a quarter of their normal weight, cubs even die by hunger.
Termites usually spit a poison secret on their enemies. That's often enough for termite eaters - but not for the Aarwolf. Alike his meat consuming 'cousins' he has a very strong stomach. And it seems to be resistant against the poison. But 'caused by this special gift, the digestion is a lot more complicated. It's very slow, so the Aardwolf has to be economical with his energy. That means, his time of pregnancy lasts 90 days! Usually between 2 and 3 cubs are born, which grow up pretty quick. Maybe to be grown up in winter, when the food is rare. Equiped with a long, broad tongue and giant salivary glands, he licks up 300 000 termites per night!
Well, you don't need very strong teeth to chew a termite. So they developed to weak stubs and only the two canine teeth remind on the strong ones of his forefathers and the other hyena species. This teeth he needs for his own and his cub's protection. You can see that very well on the picture below.
An Aarwolf couple protects a territory of 150 to 200 ha, which includes about 3000 termite hills. To get enough food, an Aarwolf walkes up to 6 hours through his 'hunting ground'.
Aardwolves respect their territories, most of the time, but
in the mating season the dominant males cross the borders to weaker male's
places, where they leave their scents everywhere. When the females are in heat,
they place their scents everywhere near the borders of her territory and if she
lives with a weak male, she shows off with her smells in dominant male's
Dominant males mate first with their own partner, then search for other females around. If he findes one, he scares her partner away, even while they're mating! To avoid, that the female gets rid of him, he leads her away from her den, then begins the mating, which is a very long event, lasting up to 4 and a half hours. Perhaps to give the genes of the first male a lead over the following mates.
This social system makes it possible for the female, to mate with the best males around and to give birth to similar strong sons, who produce a lot of grandcubs. But the risk in this system is, that some Aardwolf males leave their unfaithful mates and the cubs alone, which is a desaster for them, cause Aardwolves raise their cubs together. One parent stays at home to protect the children from jackals, the other searches for food. Most of the Aardwolves are responsible, loving fathers and look after their cubs about 6 hours a night.
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