The Big Picture: Aardwolves are like the burrito-loving buddies of the hyena family.

An aardwolf. (CREDIT: Spencer Wright)

The aardwolf! Picture a cute little critter with a body like a mini hyena. It’s the hyena’s little cousin from Africa, but don’t worry, it’s not as mischievous. The name “aardwolf” means “earth wolf,” probably because these guys love hanging out in burrows. They’re like the burrito-loving buddies of the hyena family.

Speaking of food, aardwolves have an interesting taste—termites! Yep, they go gaga for those tiny bugs. Forget meat, these insectivores chow down on thousands of termites in one night. They’ve got special teeth and a sticky tongue for termite-catching action.

But let’s talk about aardwolves and their unique anal secretions! Brace yourself, because this is where things get a little funky. You see, aardwolves have a special gland near their anus called the anal gland. This gland produces a smelly secretion that they use for, well, marking their territory. It’s like their way of saying, “Hey, this patch of land is mine!”

But here’s the interesting part: the scent of their anal secretions is no ordinary stink. It’s pungent and powerful, giving off a distinct odor that can be quite potent. Some folks describe it as a mix of garlic and rotten fruit.


It’s not the kind of fragrance you’d want as a perfume, that’s for sure. Now, why do they bother with these odorous emissions? Well, aardwolves are pretty territorial creatures, and they want to make sure other aardwolves know where their turf begins and ends. So, they leave little “scent messages” around their territory, reminding intruders to think twice before stepping on their turf.

It might sound a bit strange to us humans, but in the animal kingdom, these odorous secretions are just another way of communication. It’s like an aardwolf’s version of leaving a strongly worded note on the fridge, but with a smell that’ll make you wrinkle your nose.

So, next time you come across an aardwolf, remember to give them a little respect for their unique anal secretions and the smelly business of marking their domain.

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