The Cutest Animal In The World
It’s a known fact that scientists discover new species every year, expanding our knowledge of life on Earth even further. With every addition, the winner of the title “The Worlds Cutest Animal” continues to be debated. Although, we’re pretty sure the newest South African discovery is definitely the cutest.
Recently, scientists and wildlife experts alike have been baffled by the cute new creature they have discovered roaming around South Africa. With such a unique appearance, scientists know they have a lot to learn about this unusual critter, but here is what we know so far.
South Africa is home to an abundant amount of natural resources, giving life to all kinds of animals. Generally, we think of South Africa as being hot, dry, and harsh living conditions, yet in reality, South Africa has a full spectrum of habitats! From lush greenery to bone-dry deserts, South Africa is full of amazing creatures.
But this one, this one sure is special. From the coloring of its coat to its particular habits, it’s one of a kind.
Much of South Africa is covered in national parks and game reserves because poachers prowl much of the land for illegal trophies. Due to these protected areas, this creature was able to thrive, undetected, for some time. Until now, that is.
Scientists quickly realized these critters were furry and almost dog-like. Yet, still, there were vast differences. They had seen things like it before, but nothing came close to the uniqueness of this animal.
Scientists originally thought these creatures were solitary before linking them back to the rest of their family tree. After being born, they stay with their mother and siblings and generally don’t go far, unlike hyenas, who form a pack out of families in the surrounding areas and travel as one.
But these cuties do interact with animals outside their species, however, it’s quite unusual.
Meet The Aardwolves
This furry little creature that has been discovered has been dubbed the Aardwolf. Its name means “earth wolf” in both Dutch and Afrikaans. Locals also refer to the animal as the called “maanhaar jackal”.
Although it has similarities to other animals, it’s distinctly different in many ways…
What Is An Aardwolf?
The Aardwolf is related to is the South African hyena, as pictured above. Although these two are in the same family tree, they couldn’t be more different from one another!
Scientists and animal experts have recently discovered a few traits in the Aardwolf that have them very interested.
Where Are Aardwolves From?
These creatures are only known to live in the brushlands of South Africa. These creatures unlike their close relative the hyena, are not pack animals, although they do tend to stay in groupings. They also are nocturnal which the hyena is not, and they live in underground burrows around the South African brushlands. But what do they eat?
What Do They Eat?
Their relatives, the hyena, are meat eaters and hunters.Whereas the Aardwolf, feast on termites and ants, much like an anteater would do. They prefer bugs and certain types of plant life over chomping down on some bones like the rest of their family.
Family life is very important for these creatures. They might not be complete pack animals like the hyena but they definitely like to stick together with the rest of their litter once they are old enough to leave their mother’s side. Although this wasn’t what scientists thought at first. But Aardwolves do interact with animals outside their species, however, it’s quite unusual.
The most interesting aspect of the Aardwolves culture is that although they are creatures that live in burrows, they do not build their own. Instead, they come along and find burrows created by other animals and take them over. Rude, but efficient.
One of the traits that makes them so different than their cousins, is what they eat.
How They Eat
These creatures hunt down their food by first sniffing out where the termite mounds are located. They do this at night because they are nocturnal creatures, and that also happens to be when termites are most dormant in their nests.
Once locating a nest theAardwolves use their long sticky ant eating tounges to scoop out the unsuspecting bugs and eat them. People were shocked when they realized how much these little creatures eat each night.
These seemingly small furry creatures have some pretty massive appetites. They can hunt down endless nests of termites and eat up to a whopping 300,000 termites per night! However big their stomach may get, scientists are interested in how these creatures evolve.
When looking at the rest of the family these creatures tend to be by far the smallest. With fully grown adult Aardwolves only getting as big as your average forest fox. This tiny size is probably what makes Aardwolves of all ages look so cute to people. What’s interesting about these creatures to animal experts is how they approach their love lives.
Unlike many brushland creatures these animals are in fact, monogamous creatures. Meaning just like penguins, they find a mate and stay with them for their entire life. Isn’t that adorable? I guess Aardwolves take their love lives and dating pretty seriously. They’re also fiercely protective.
Protecting One’s Territory
Interesting about these creatures is that they are not very territorial over their burrows or lands but they are particularly territorial over their mates. It’s been known that during mating season males will fight each other over finding a certain mate. Afterall they only get to be with one mate forever, so naturally, they want to pick the one they want.
Although these animals are new to scientists and animal researchers they are not by any means rare or dwindling in numbers. They are seen to have steady numbers across South Africa as they are not hunted as often by poachers as other wildlife in South Africa.
All and all, these adorable creatures are still so new to the books and studied of animal researchers and scientists. There is so much to not only learn about this particular species but there might be many more species of animal out there just waiting to be discovered.