What does a termite bite look like

Barking meerkats, snake-eating honey badgers and zigzag sniffing aardvarks

Everyone speaks of the “Big Five”: they are elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and buffalo. But the wildlife of southern Africa has even more to offer. In the twilight, underground and on small hills you can discover numerous other fascinating creatures. Meerkats, aardvarks and honey badgers are just a few of them.


They stand on their hind legs, all lined up in front of their burrow, and look out over the plain: the meerkats. The whole colony looks in the same direction; The animals turn their heads with jagged movements so as not to miss any enemy. Meerkats, also called surikates, live in the south of the African continent, i.e. in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and parts of Angola. These insectivores are probably best known through Timon with his wisdom "Hakuna Matata" from the Disney film "The Lion King".

Meerkats are small predators that belong to the mongoose. They are very social animals and live in colonies of up to 30 animals underground. While some are looking for food or digging in their burrow, others keep watch in front of the entrance, like our marmots. When an enemy approaches, the meerkats bark loudly in front of the den to warn the others and then rush quickly into safety. The diurnal animals like to relax in the sun in front of their burrow, but when it is very hot they like to retreat underground.

Within a colony, meerkats help each other to raise their young. There is a dominant female who gives birth to young up to three times a year. The other females become helpers and have no offspring. If a helper does get young anyway, it happens that the dominant female kills these young.

The meerkats are carnivores and feed on insects, eggs, small birds, and scorpions. The older meerkats teach the young to hunt and show them step by step how to kill a poisonous scorpion, for example.


It is reminiscent of a mythical creature with the body of a pig, the trunk of a coati and the ears of a hare: the aardvark can hardly be compared with any other animal. But this mammal is not only unique because of its appearance, but also because of its origins. It belongs to the so-called tubular teeth and is the only species within this genus. But the scientists are still not entirely sure how exactly to classify this animal.

Aardvarks are very rarely seen because they are nocturnal. The aardvark spends its days underground in its burrow. This consists of a central 2–3 meter cave with several long corridors that lead to the exits.

After dusk it goes in search of ants and termites. It presses its nose to the ground and sniffs in a zigzag pattern for the insects. Thanks to its thick skin, termite bites cannot harm it. The aardvark also rarely eats small vertebrates such as mice.

The aardvark not only lives in southern Africa, like the meerkats, but is also found further north. It inhabits savannas and bush lands. Because the aardvark lacks a certain type of visual cell in the eye, the so-called uvula, it cannot see any colors. His sense of sight is therefore not very well developed and communication with other aardvarks takes place mainly via the sense of smell and hearing.

Much is still unexplored about the aardvarks, as they are so rarely seen. But although they are eaten in certain regions and attempts have been made to exterminate them from time to time because their burrows destroyed the farmers' fields, the aardvark is not on the list of endangered animals. The farmers realized quickly enough that the large increase in termites is a major nuisance for their fields.

Honey badger

The honey badger is reminiscent of a badger that is too small or a marten that is too big. It is unmistakable with its white stripe that runs from the head over the back to the tail. He is considered the most fearless animal in the world, but is that really him?

The honey badger is found in both Africa and Asia. It occurs from the Cape to Morocco and Egypt, then further east to India and Nepal. Observations from the Kruger National Park in South Africa explain its reputation: With its enormously strong front legs and sharp claws, it successfully defends itself against lions when harassed. Other predators can hardly penetrate its thick skin with their teeth.

It is also reported that he bites animals up to the size of a wildebeest or waterbuck so deliberately that they can die from the injuries.

The honey badger has other unique abilities as well. So poisonous snakes cannot harm him, he seems to be largely immune to their poison. Snakes are therefore also part of its prey; in addition, he hunts rodents, the young of larger mammals as well as birds and frogs. When not hunting, the honey badger also eats berries, fruits and - as the name suggests - honey.

Honey badgers live in burrows underground, which they dig with their sharp claws. They sleep there during the day; in the twilight and night they go looking for food.

Like the aardvark, the honey badger has been persecuted by humans in certain regions because it destroys beehives to get the honey and breaks open poultry houses. Some honey badgers fell victim to poison baits and traps. But from a global perspective, the honey badger is not one of the endangered species.