Aardwolves (Proteles cristata) are insectivorous mammals that look like skinny striped hyenas. The aardwolf has a bushy tail and a golden coat with black vertical stripes. In Afrikaans and Dutch, ‘Aardwolf’ means ‘earth wolf.’ The aardwolf, also known as the civet hyena, maanhaar-jackal, or termite-eating hyena, is a member of the hyena family. East and South Africa are home to the aardwolf.


Each of an aardwolf’s front foot has five toes. The aardwolf can consume over 20,000 termites in one night because of its lengthy and sticky tongue.


In this article we are going to learn some fun facts about these beautiful creatures so that you can share them with friends and family when you join us on your next safari adventure. 


What kind of animal is an aardwolf?

In Afrikaans, aardwolf means “earth wolf.” Aardwolves are members of the hyena family and belong to the genus P. cristata (Hynaenidae). The aardwolf is an insectivorous mammal that eats termites and belongs to the Mammalia class.


How many aardwolves are there in the world?

In East and South Africa, the aardwolf (Proteles cristata) is found in two populations. In terms of population size, this animal may be found all throughout eastern Africa.


The aardwolf (Proteles cristata) prefers wide and dry ground, as well as dens with shrubs and plants. Mountainous areas are unsuitable for the aardwolf.


The aardwolf’s two separate populations may be found in its natural habitats, which are dispersed over southern Africa, east Africa, and northern Africa. Dry and open plains, as well as shrub-covered dens, make up the aardwolf’s habitat. Because of the aardwolf’s feeding requirements, the Hodotermitidae termite family must be present in the aardwolf’s environment. Because these termites may be found in savannahs, grazed grasslands, and farmlands, aardwolves use these areas to mark their territory throughout the year.



The aardwolf (Proteles cristata) shares territory with other animals. Aardwolves dwell in an area that spans 0.6-2.5 miles and is home to an adult pair and their young progeny or pups (1-4 km).


Aardwolves (Proteles cristatus) have a lifespan of eight to ten years. The aardwolf can survive up to 15 years in captivity.


Aardwolves (Proteles cristatus) are monogamous creatures. Aardwolves usually form pairs, although some males of this species mate with many females. Males and females of Proteles cristata have a year-round mating season. Aardwolves give birth to two to four cubs after a 90-100 day gestation period.


Conservation Status

The aardwolf (Proteles cristatus) has a conservation status of Least Concern, according to the IUCN. The population of Proteles cristatus is widely distributed in East and Southern Africa, with no symptoms of decrease.


Look Familiar?

Hyenas are similar to dogs in appearance, while being related to cats. This hyena has a short body and a back that slopes downhill. It features a small but thick neck, high forelegs, and short but robust hind legs. A hyena’s face is tiny, yet it has enormous ears. With the exception of the spotted hyena, most hyenas have black stripes on their coats. The teeth and cranium of a hyena are comparable to those of an aardwolf.


Hyenas are noted for their attractiveness factor, while being best known for their vicious scavenging activities. Hyena cubs and aardwolf cubs are extremely endearing and lovely.


Aardwolves are linked to the hyena family and look a lot like striped hyenas. A sloping back, bushy tail, and the propensity of secreting chemicals from anal glands to mark territories are all traits shared by hyenas and aardwolves. Aardwolves and hyenas both dwell in open areas, dens, and subterranean tunnels. Aardwolves, on the other hand, are solitary creatures, whereas spotted hyenas dwell in groups.


The mating season for aardwolves lasts all year, but the breeding season for brown hyenas only lasts a few months. Aardwolves may only reproduce during a few seasons of the year in some situations. In terms of feeding habits, striped and brown hyenas are scavengers who prefer to feast on the remains of other animals’ hunts in the region. Hares, reptiles, rodents, and some fruits and vegetables are all part of a hyena’s diet. Aardwolves, on the other hand, mostly eat termites and insects. The aardwolf likes to eat Trinervitermes termites, which are prevalent in East and Southern Africa and are also the Proteles cristatus’ natural environment. To guarantee a continual supply of food throughout time, the Proteles cristatus does not destroy the entire mound of termites when consuming them.



Growling, shouting, grunting, yelping, and whimpering are all ways hyenas interact with one another. Many experts believe that hyenas communicate with one another through a strange laughing language. Nonetheless, because hyenas utilize this laughing language around their kills, this laughing language is serious business. Hyenas interact with one another by spreading a paste-like secretion across grasslands. This substance is produced by a tiny gland located beneath a hyena’s tail.



Aardwolves are noted for their quiet and secretive personalities. Proteles cristata are nocturnal creatures, meaning they are most active at night. During the day, these creatures can be seen napping in subterranean burrows. An aardwolf only comes out at night to hunt for food. This animal will scream, snarl, or lift its mane in rare violent episodes.


Aardwolves are known for hunting backwards to deceive their predators. Despite their poor speed, aardwolves may elude their predators by releasing a foul odour from their glands.


Did You Know

Hyenas are said to have magical abilities in several African tribes. Hyenas are also regarded as pests in many African locations due to their proclivity for attacking cattle. A brown hyena species can also be seen in African zoos. Another interesting truth about African hyenas and aardwolves is that many people throw rubbish out for them to consume. Aardwolves, on the other hand, may be regarded highly valuable to humans in terms of assisting them in eradicating termites.

Bronwyn Reynolds, Fizzin