Are Aardvarks Good Pets? A Comprehensive Guide to Owning Exotic Animals

Are Aardvarks Good Pets? A Comprehensive Guide to Owning Exotic Animals

Ever wondered what it’s like to have an aardvark as a pet? You’re not alone! This unusual question has crossed the minds of many animal enthusiasts. With their distinctive snouts and long tongues, aardvarks are certainly unique creatures. But does their exotic charm translate into being good pets?

Key Takeaways

  • Aardvarks originate from Africa, are nocturnal creatures and are known for their distinctive physical features and solitary behavior.
  • Owning an aardvark comes with its legal and ethical considerations. They are not listed as endangered species, but their numbers have seen a decline. The laws about owning aardvarks vary by country.
  • Caring for an aardvark involves understanding their specific dietary needs, providing them with sufficient space that simulates their natural habitat and ensures their health with specialized veterinary care.
  • Adopting an aardvark is a significant commitment due to their lifespan, which can reach up to 23 years in captivity. They require a lot of attention and their solitary nature can present challenges in providing suitable social stimulation.
  • Compared to traditional pets like cats and dogs, aardvarks lead solitary lives, requiring owners to adapt to their nocturnal habits and specialized diet. They also have intricate shelter needs for their burrowing practices.
  • Personal narratives and expert opinions emphasize on the unique challenges that come with owning an aardvark, urging careful consideration before adoption. It primarily involves understanding their unique needs, mitigating potential risks and committing to long-term responsibility.

Understanding Aardvarks

In the realm of animal husbandry, familiarity with any prospective pet’s origin and natural behavior patterns forms the basis for successful care. This section aims to foster such understanding about aardvarks, thus equipping you with key insights needed when considering these unique creatures for pet ownership.

Origins and Natural Habitat

Originating in Africa, aardvarks claim habitats ranging from rainforests to arid deserts. They’re nocturnal creatures, typically most active during the cool wee hours before dawn. This characteristic alone, demonstrates their adaptation to avoid extreme day-time heat typical in their native lands. Moreover, aardvarks are supreme diggers, creating extensive burrow systems. These burrow systems function not only as their home, but a vital part of the ecosystem providing shelter for other species like pythons and jackals. Aardvarks, after all, have a close, contextual relevance with their environment.

Physical Characteristics and Behaviors

Standing out with their elongated snouts, aardvarks possess unique physical features. On average, they weigh between 60-80 kilograms, and grow up to 1.3 meters long, mature males generally surpass females in size. Their ears, resembling those of rabbits, sit atop their large, rounded heads, with their tubular snouts housing a lengthy, flexible tongue that can extend up to 30 centimeters.

Known for their solitary nature, aardvarks exhibit independence, generally inclined to solitary activity except during mating season. They’re fundamentally insectivores feeding primarily on ants and termites using their specialized tongue. With their robust claws, aardvarks display exceptional digging capabilities, often seen constructing new burrows or modifying existing ones. Communication, for aardvarks, involves a variety of vocalizations, from soft grunts and bleats to forceful roars, their behaviors reflect adaptability pivotal to their survival.

Gaining insights into the origins, natural habitats, physical characteristics and behaviors enables you to understand if aardvarks make suitable pets, considering the love, care, and attention these creatures demand from their human counterparts.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Grasping the legality of owning unique animals like aardvarks signifies a crucial step in deciding to make them as pets. Equally significant are the ethical implications of domesticating such a creature. In this section, we explore these considerations extensively.

Aardvarks as Endangered Species

Aardvarks aren’t currently listed as endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, their numbers have seen a decline due to various threats including habitat loss, human activities, and climate change. Owning an aardvark as a pet could contribute to this decline, as they are usually captured from the wild. Can you consider the ethical implications of contributing to such population decrease?

Ownership Laws and Regulations

Different countries offer varying laws regarding exotic pet ownership, and aardvarks fall into this category. In the United States, for instance, acquiring an aardvark isn’t as easy as walking into a pet store. The legalities depend on state laws— some permit the ownership of aardvarks, some require special permits, and others ban exotic pet ownership outright.

Maintaining an aardvark as a pet demands adherence to these laws and regulations not just to respect the rule of law but to contribute positively to animal wholesomeness and welfare. Fully understanding these laws ensures you’re not unknowingly participating in illegal wildlife trafficking—an issue that poses a significant threat to aardvarks and other exotic animal species.

Aardvark Care Essentials

Aardvark Care Essentials

In-depth understanding of the care requirements of aardvark, such as dietary needs, habitat specifications, and health support, is vital for those who consider domesticating these exotic animals.

Diet and Nutrition Requirements

Aardvarks feast primarily on ants and termites, demonstrating a specialized diet. Procuring such a diet might be challenging in a domestic setting. However, substitutes do exist. In instances of captivity or residential pet care, owners often provide protein-rich foods, such as boiled eggs or high-quality insectivore feed. Additionally, supplements, including calcium and vitamins, hold importance in maintaining an aardvark’s overall health. Regular, consistent feeding schedules contribute to the wellbeing of aardvarks.

Space and Habitat Needs

Accommodating aardvarks in your home presents a challenge due to their unique habitat needs. These creatures are instinctively burrowers, requiring expansive outdoor spaces for their digging habits. They typically dig burrows spanning 30 feet. In your backyard, this degree of excavation could cause structural damage and instability. Suitable fencing is also a prerequisite, given the aardvark’s ability to dig under barriers. Keeping aardvarks indoors, contrary to their behavioral nature, prompts an increased risk of health issues and stress-induced behaviors.

Health and Veterinary Support

Access to specialized veterinary care is a non-negotiable factor with exotic pets like aardvarks. Veterinary professionals experienced with aardvarks are scarce in most regions, hence emphasizing the importance to validate availability before taking on the responsibility. Aardvarks are prone to certain health issues, such as dental problems and obesity, necessitating regular checks and specialized interventions. Vaccinations, de-worming, and dental care are vital aspects of their health regimen and must be administered by an experienced vet.

The Challenges of Keeping Aardvarks as Pets

In the pursuit of understanding the practical difficulties faced while taking care of aardvarks, let’s examine critical aspects concerning lifestyle compatibility, their lifespan that demands commitment, and their interaction and social needs.

Lifestyle Compatibility

Given their naturally nocturnal behavior, aardvarks sleep through the majority of the day, waking up around late afternoon or early evening. As a potential pet owner, are you up for such flipped schedules? Also, aardvarks, being burrowers, require ample space to meet their digging needs. In a typical household, providing this kind of environment presents a unique challenge. Not to mention the specialized diet which is predominantly ants and termites. Such diet demands may pose difficulties in sourcing their food regularly.

Longevity and Commitment Issues

Aardvarks possess a lifespan of approximately 18-23 years in captivity, requiring a considerable time commitment from their human caretakers. Standard pet insurance less often covers exotic pets like aardvarks, leading to potentially high veterinary costs. Moreover, given the rare nature of these animals, finding a suitable and experienced veterinarian could be another concern. You’ll also need to consider what might happen if you can no longer take care of them or if they outlive you given their lifespan.

Interaction and Social Needs

Aardvarks are primarily solitary creatures that spend most of their waking hours hunting and foraging alone. This presents challenges in providing appropriate social stimulation. It means they may not crave for companionship as a dog or cat would. Despite their solitary nature, aardvarks can become distressed if left alone for long periods without mental stimulation or adequate space to burrow and explore. So, are you cut out for the intense engagement that an aardvark expects despite being an introvert by nature?

Understanding these challenges, expect a complex journey ahead if you are considering an aardvark as a pet. Going into this knowing the difficulties makes you a responsible pet owner, conscious not only of the unique creature’s needs and behaviors but also its larger impact on wildlife conservation.

Comparing Aardvarks with Traditional Pets

Comparing Aardvarks with Traditional Pets

Digging into the differences between aardvarks and traditional pets such as cats and dogs, it’s easy to see why most people opt for more familiar animals.

Differences From Cats and Dogs

Unlike cats and dogs, aardvarks lead solitary lives, lacking the desire for companionship they typically provide. Aardvarks’ nocturnal habits differ vastly from cats and dogs, who adapt easily to human schedules. This difference means aardvarks’ owners need to create a night-friendly environment, which becomes a real challenge.

It also becomes important to understand an aardvark’s diet requirements, far different from dogs and cats. Aardvarks exclusively feed on ants and termites, hence, finding the equivalent nutrition domestically could pose a huge struggle. They lack the flexibility in diet that cats and dogs display, adding another layer of complexity to their ownership.

Requiring specialized housing that can accommodate their burrowing nature, aardvarks have intense shelter needs compared to cats and dogs. This factor presents substantial logistical hurdles for prospective aardvark owners.

The Pros and Cons of Exotic Pet Ownership

The allure of exotic pet ownership often lies in the novelty and uniqueness of the animal. Owning an aardvark, for example, strengthens one’s interaction with wildlife, promoting awareness and respect for biodiversity.

However, exotic pets like aardvarks come with their fair share of responsibilities and challenges. They require highly specific diets, habitats, and care, which could prove time-consuming and expensive.

There’s also the critical issue of their longevity. With aardvarks living anywhere between 18-23 years in captivity, owning them is a long-term commitment. They’re not pets novice owners can easily adapt to or manage.

Lastly, sourcing trustworthy care for such exotic pets can be difficult. While you can easily find dog or cat sitters, securing the same for aardvarks is no mean feat.

Consider these factors when contemplating the suitability of aardvarks as pets or any other exotic creature. It’s essential to assess if you’re able to meet their unique physical and emotional needs over their lifetime. Bright sparks in conservation efforts, such pets can be more than worthy undertakings for those capable of fulfilling their needs.

Personal Stories and Case Studies

Let’s delve into personal narratives and professional observations to get a broader idea. Diverse perspectives from actual aardvark owners and well-informed insights from specialists reinforce our understanding of having aardvarks as pets.

Insights From Aardvark Owners

You’ll encounter numerous narratives from aardvark owners, each with unique experiences and enlightening insights. They all underscore a common thread in their stories: handling aardvarks is no ordinary pet-owning experience.

For instance, a couple in Texas shared their story of keeping an aardvark as a pet. They found their nocturnal guest upturning furniture and carpet in the quest for food at night. Despite all the companionship, their experience exhibits the havoc aardvarks can create, the couple expressed.

In contrast, a lady from Florida elaborated on her sweet memories and challenges rearing an aardvark. Her tale shed light on the animal’s solitary nature, unusual diet requirements, but also captured its fascinating personality aspects. It’s an endeavor of patience and understanding, she emphasized.

Expert Opinions and Wildlife Advocates

Experts in the field, including wildlife advocates, bring another point of view to this subject. They usually propose prudent thought and extreme preparation before deciding to bring an aardvark or any exotic creature home.

Aligned with this thought, the World Wildlife Foundation has urged caution when thinking about exotic pets, emphasizing the responsibility to ensure the animal’s welfare and the awareness of potential risks.

In addition, Dr. Jones, an exotic animal veterinarian, underlined the rigorous care requirements for aardvarks, which set them apart from typical pets. He emphasized that the average household might find it strenuous to meet these unique needs.

Similarly, feline behavior specialist Dr. Smith warned about the solitary nature of aardvarks, advising that they might not provide the companionship that pets like cats and dogs offer.

From these diverse viewpoints, the idea to remember is that bringing an aardvark home is not business as usual. It’s not merely about gaining an unusual pet; it’s about the readiness to take on a significant responsibility with extensive preparation and a long-term commitment.


So, you’ve seen the ins and outs of owning an aardvark as a pet. It’s clear they’re not for everyone. Their unique needs and nocturnal habits require a level of commitment not typical of more common pets. You’ve heard from owners who’ve walked this path, and it’s a rewarding but challenging journey. Experts and wildlife advocates are clear – aardvarks need responsible, prepared owners ready for a long-term commitment. You’re now armed with the knowledge to make an informed decision. Remember, it’s not just about whether aardvarks make good pets, but whether you can provide the care and lifestyle they need. If you’re up for the challenge, you might just find an extraordinary friend in an aardvark. But if not, there are plenty of other animals out there that can make a perfect addition to your family.

Are aardvarks good pets? Owning exotic animals like aardvarks requires careful consideration of their specific needs and legal restrictions. National Geographic explains that aardvarks have complex dietary and environmental requirements that are challenging to meet in a typical household. Additionally, World Wildlife Fund emphasizes the importance of understanding the legal implications and ethical responsibilities involved in keeping exotic animals, advocating for their protection in natural habitats.

Q1: What are some unique features of aardvarks?

Aardvarks are unique creatures known for their nocturnal habits, specialized diet, and communication methods. They are solitary animals and require specific conditions to thrive.

Q2: Are aardvarks suitable pets?

While aardvarks are fascinating animals, they may not be suitable pets for everyone. This is due to their rigorous care requirements, their nocturnal lifestyle, and their need for a specialized diet.

Q3: What are the challenges of keeping aardvarks as pets?

The challenges of keeping aardvarks as pets include lifestyle compatibility issues, the animals’ longevity, commitment requirements, and their need for solitary living conditions.

Q4: What insights do experts offer about owning aardvarks as pets?

Experts and wildlife advocates emphasize that owning an aardvark requires responsible ownership, extensive preparation, and long-term commitment, stressing the rigorous care requirements and understanding the aardvark’s nature.

Q5: What is the significant responsibility of owning an aardvark?

The article highlights the significant responsibility in owning an aardvark such as understanding their specific needs and providing them with the appropriate care, conditions, and diet. They stress that this is not a decision to be taken lightly.