It can grow up to 7.5 feet long, has a fleshy, tapering tail, a long tubular snout, large ears and an arched back. The aardvark uses its powerful claws to break open termite nests; then it uses its tongue, coated with sticky saliva, to eat the insects in the nest.
Aardvarks are excellent diggers, especially in softer earth. Solitary and nocturnal, they sleep during the day but will sometimes come out in the daytime to sun themselves. Males and females occupy separate burrows. Although an aardvark is a timid animal, it will fight when it cannot flee or burrow to safety defending itself with its powerful claws or by striking an opponent with its tail or shoulders.
Aardvarks give birth to one offspring at a time. The pinkish, hairless newborn stays inside the burrow for about 2 weeks and then begins to follow its mother in her search for food. The young first eats solid food at 3 months of age and is suckled until 4 months.
At about 6 months the young male becomes independent and goes off on its own, while the young female stays with the mother until after the next baby is born. The young female may then dig its own burrow a few yards away from its mother but still joins her to forage for termites.