Otherwise known as the
Antbear, this strange
looking animals is found in various habitats but is a
very rare sight due to its secretive nocturnal habits. It
has long ears, a blunt tubular snout and a long
prehensile tongue which it uses to gather up termites and
other insects. It uses its strong claws to burrow holes
in the ground where it sleeps during the day.
The aardvark has a short neck connected to a massive, dull
brownish-gray, almost hairless body that has a strongly arched back.
The legs are short, the hind legs longer than the front ones. The head
is elongated and ends in a long, narrow snout, with nostrils that can
be closed. The long, tubular ears are normally held upright but can be
folded and closed. The short but muscular tail is cone-shaped and
tapers to a point. The thick claws on the forefeet are used as digging
As it is nocturnal and has poor eyesight, the aardvark is cautious
upon leaving its burrow. It comes to the entrance and stands there
motionless for several minutes. Then it suddenly leaps out in powerful
jumps. At about 30 feet out it stops, raises up on its legs, perks up
its ears and turns its head in all directions. If there are no sounds,
it makes a few more leaps and finally moves at a slow trot to look for
The adult aardvark's principal enemies are human (who sometimes kill
it for meat), lions, hyenas and leopards; pythons also take the young.
When in danger the aardvark takes to the nearest hole, or rapidly
excavates one, pushing the dirt backwards with its feet and moving the
dirt away with its tail. But if cornered, it defends itself by sitting
up, using its tail, shoulders and foreclaws- or it will lie on its
back and strike with all four feet.
The Spring Hare is a kangaroo-like rodent,
with long and powerful hind legs and a long bushy tail.
They are found in areas of light sandy soil usually on
open ground but occasionally in light woodland. It hides
during the day in burrows. They are solitary, terrestrial
and strictly nocturnal. The Scrub Hare is somewhat larger
and frequently seen at night in the road, but preferring
dry open country and light woodland where it grazes only
various grass types. It gives birth to very well
developed young who are able to fend for themselves soon
after birth. For this reason they do not burrow holes in
the ground as do rabbits.
Also known as a Dassie or rock
rabbit as they favour rocky outcrops. Two types of
Dassie occur in Zambia, the Tree dassie and the Yellow
spotted dassie, although they are almost impossible to
distinguish. The latter is more terrestrial than
arboreal, but both feed on various plants, fruit and
lichen growing on the rocks.
This reptile-like animal with large
overlapping scales has only been spotted in the Kafue
National Park, in dry woodland or scrub terrain.
has a long sticky tongue which it uses to gather termites
and ants. When attacked or alarmed it rolls itself into
an impenetrable ball.
With its long sharply pointed quills erected
when they are alarmed, the porcupine is formidable prey
for carnivores. They are mainly vegetarian and are
usually spotted alone at night foraging along the ground
Natural shelters such as caves or
crevices among roots and
rocks are modified by porcupines to suit
their needs. They will inhabit holes made by other animals but also
dig their own. When these burrows have been occupied over several
years, they will have several passages, entrances and exits.
As do most well-armed or poisonous
animals, the porcupine warns potential enemies of its defense system.
When alarmed it will stamp its feet, click its teeth and growl or hiss
while vibrating specialized quills that produce a characteristic
rattle. The "rattle quills" on the end of the tail are
hollow and open at the end so they produce the most noise. If an enemy
persists, the porcupine runs backward until it rams its attacker. The
reverse charge is most effective because the hindquarters are the most
heavily armed and the quills are directed to the rear.
The porcupine is capable of putting on
a very aggressive display, but it is basically timid. It is
occasionally the target of predators such as pythons and leopards,
sometimes to the detriment of the predator, which can die from quill
wounds. Predators have been found dead with a porcupine lodged in
their throat. Large owls also prey on young porcupines
Three types of squirrel occur in Zambia. The
ubiquitous Bush Squirrel found throughout the savannah
woodland areas. Also found are Boehms Squirrel and
the Sun Squirrel.