Difference Between Aardvark and Anteater

Main Difference – Aardvark vs Anteater

Anteaters and aardvarks are two mammals that have very similar appearances but belong to two different species. Anteaters belong to the order Pilosa, and aardvarks belong to the order Tubulidentata. Since both are known for eating ants and termites; they share some similar characteristic features related to their diet. These features include the presence of long snouts with long, sticky tongues, reduced or absent dentition, large claw-like nails, tough skin or scales that protects from biting ants and termites. Due to these features, both aardvark and anteater are mistakenly identified as one species. Despite the similarities, they show many differences and put into completely different orders. The main difference between aardvark and anteater is the presence of teeth in aardvark unlike in anteater. More differences between these two mammals will be discussed in this article.

Aardvark – Facts, Characteristics, and Behavior

Aardvark is the only living species of order Tubulidentata and found in savannahs and wooded grasslands in sub-Saharan Africa. The name ‘aardvark’ means ‘earth pig’ in the African language. Aardvark has a heavy body with short, thick legs and a long head and snout, which is unique to this species. The tip of the snout is blunt and have two nostrils like in pigs. The ears are long and tubular in shape. Their pinkish-gray can be seen through the hairs, which are dull brownish or yellow-gray in color. The tail is long, muscular and has no hairs. These creatures are well adapted to eat ants and termites, thus are often called pure anteaters. An adult aardvark may weigh up to 60 kg and measure about 1.5m in length. Their eyes are smaller with weak sight. However, their hearing and olfactory organs are extremely well-developed. The hind feet have five toes, and the forefeet four, each with a powerful claw-like nail. These nails are important for digging. Their head is elongated and has a small tubular mouth with a long, sticky tongue, which is used to collect termites and ants into the mouth. Unlike anteaters, aardvark has teeth. Incisors and canines are present only during the fetal stage. Adult aardvarks have 20-22 premolars and molars, which grow continuously. Teeth are hexagonal in shape without enamel and have a tubular pulp cavity. These creatures are nocturnal and live in burrows during the day.

Main Difference - Aardvark vs Anteater

Anteater – Facts, Characteristics, and Behavior

Anteaters belong to the family Myrmecophagidae, which includes 2 genera and 3 species. Anteaters are found only in savannahs and forest habitats in South America. They are well distinguished from other mammals by their elongated skulls with long rostrum. Mouth is very small with long, sticky tongue similar to aardvark. But unlike aardvarks, anteaters lack teeth. Hence, they are called edentate mammals. The tongue is covered with viscous secretion produced by submaxillary glands and also has barb-like spins on it. Due to these adaptations, they can trap ants and termites easily. The giant anteater is the largest species that reaches up to about 2 m in length and weighs as much as 40 kg. Anteaters have coarse gray hair and a bushy tail. These creatures are terrestrial and can be either nocturnal or diurnal. They are not burrowers. Long powerful claws are used for foraging. They are considered as endangered species due to rapid habitat loss, hunting, and illegal trade.Difference Between Aardvark and Anteater

Difference Between Aardvark and Anteater

Classification

Aardvark belongs to order Tubulidentata, which includes only this species.

Anteater belongs to order Pilosa, which includes 3 species.

Body weight

Aardvarks usually weigh up to 60 kg.

Anteaters usually weigh up to 40 kg.

location

Aardvarks live in Africa.

Anteaters live in South America.

Habitat

Aardvarks are burrowers.

Anteaters are entirely terrestrial.

Active time

Aardvarks are nocturnal.

Anteaters are either diurnal or nocturnal.

Teeth

Aardvarks have teeth.

Anteaters lack teeth.

Tails

Aardvarks have muscular tails with no hairs.

Anteaters have bushy tails.Difference between Aardvark and Anteater - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Ant eater” by Fernando Flores from Caracas, Venezuela – Giant anteater | Oso hormiguero (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), via  

“Aardvark” by Masur, via  

About the Author: Yashoda

Yashoda has been a freelance writer in the field of biology for about four years. He is an expert in conducting research related to polymer chemistry and nano-technology. He holds a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Applied Science and a Master of Science degree in Industrial Chemistry.


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