D: Hey, Yaël, what do you say to a trip to the zoo? I hear they’ve got a new exhibit on African mammals.
Y: Sounds fun! I hope they have aardvarks—they’re my favorites.
D: I don’t think I’ve ever met an aardvark up close and personal. But I know that they’re about the size of a large dog, with tall ears, a long snout, and a thick tail. Why do you like them so much?
Y: Aardvarks are mighty hunters—of bugs! At night, they wander for miles in search of tasty ants or termites. When an aardvark finds an underground nest or mound of insects, it uses its long, sticky tongue to slurp them up. Pretty neat, huh?
D: I think I’ve got some termites living in my walls! Maybe I could borrow the zoo’s aardvark. It could munch those termites to its heart’s content, and I wouldn’t need to use insecticide.
Y: An aardvark might appreciate an infestation, but only if the termites are the ones they eat in Africa. The aardvark’s strong, spade-like claws can quickly smash the toughest of termite mounds, like Godzilla attacking a skyscraper. And aardvarks don’t really munch: they swallow their prey whole, and their lower stomach grinds it up.
D: It would be fascinating to watch them eat at the zoo. But aren’t they nocturnal?
Y: True—it’s hard to see an aardvark in action. Science, though, tells us a couple more cool facts. First, aardvarks’ snouts seal shut when they eat, keeping out dust and buzzing insects. Second, they can eat nearly fifty thousand bugs every night!
D: Yaël, you’ve convinced me: aardvarks are now my favorite animals, too.