Can You Own A Pet Aardvark?

Do aardvarks make good pets? No, aardvarks are wild animals and not pets. Apart from different legal aspects, their very special needs make them high maintenance and difficult to keep. This article is all about what makes them so terrible pets. 

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Aardvark looking into camera

Before I’m going to start with all the reasons why keeping a pet aardvark isn’t a good idea, let’s talk about what an aardvark actually is.

What Is An Aardvark?

The aardvark, which is also called antbear, has its habitat in the south of Africa below the Sahara desert. It got its name from its diet. Aardvarks mostly eat ants and termites. Not only their diet reminds many people of anteaters or tamanduas also their appearance has a lot in common.

However, these two species are not related to each other at all. Surprisingly, elephants, (link) hyraxes, and dugongs which couldn’t be more different are all close relatives.

Earth pigs, how aardvarks are called in Africa, are medium-sized mammals. They can weigh up to 145 pounds and measure up to 7.2 feet from head to tail. It seems large but one-third of the overall length is made up by the enormous long tail.

Aardvarks live in dens and are active burrowers. They change their den often and the old ones provide homes for African wild dogs, foxes, and jackals.

Is It Legal To Own A Pet Aardvark?

Aardvark walking on sand

No in most countries like the US and Canada it’s not legal to keep an aardvark as a pet. Even though the species isn’t native in these countries wild animals, in general, are protected.

If you want to keep a pet aardvark, you would have to get a permit or license. This means you have to show knowledge as well as experience with the species. It’s also likely that someone will come and inspect the habitat of your pet. Only when every requirement is met, you are allowed to keep it.

However, there are also some states where the ownership of wild animals isn’t regulated at all. Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, and Wisconsin have no laws regarding exotic pets. However, only because there is no law in your state that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s allowed. Ask your county or city before you make any decision.

Apart from all legal issues that might occur: Aardvarks really don’t make good pets at all!

Aardvarks Aren’t Domesticated

Aardvarks aren’t domesticated which makes them very bad pets. To be honest, if everything else doesn’t matter to you, this is the reason number one you should stay away from keeping this animal.

In history humans like the presence of aardvarks cause they keep pests away (or just eat them). However, since aardvarks are nocturnal, humans don’t get them in front of their eyes often. This is also the reason why it’s difficult to estimate the total number of individuals that roam the lands of Africa.

However, where is no interaction, domestication can’t take place. But to be honest, we are talking more about taming in this context. Domestication means the process of selective breeding and needs many generations.

For you as a pet owner that means that your aardvark will be messy and completely follow its instincts. I’m not talking about that they can be dangerous (every wild animal can be dangerous). But it might escape, develop destructive behavior or bite you.

Summarized you would have a hard time taming and training your pet.

Pet Aardvarks Need A Special Diet

Aardvark finding food in the night

Some types of animals like koalas, pandas, and aardvarks need a very special diet to stay healthy. Aardvarks eat nearly solely insects they find in their natural habitat.

It’s like impossible to come up with 10ths of thousands of ants or termites every single day. So you would need to come up with a very good substitute.

Zoos often feed a mix of cat food and supplements which should replace the shell of insects. This can work well but should be controlled by an experienced vet so that adjustments can be made if necessary.

Aardvarks Need A Lot Of Space

Aardvarks need a lot of space. In nature, they roam through a territory of several square miles and can travel distances of over 16 miles each night.

You see, this animal needs space outside of your house. Your garden is only a fit if you live in a non-seasonal area and if it’s large enough.

Apart from that, you should be prepared for the strong digging behavior of your aardvark. Say goodbye to flower and vegetable beds.

Veterinary Care Is Hard To Find

Aardvark searching for food

No matter what kind of pet you chose, you need a good vet near you. Even if your pet stays healthy all the time, it needs regular check-ups and vaccines.

The problem with exotic pets like aardvarks is that almost no vet has experience with them. All the vets who technically could treat your pet are working full-time at a zoo or animal park.

If you still find one, be prepared to spend some extra bucks. The treatment of exotic pets is more expensive than the one of cats or dogs.

How Much Does A Aardvark Cost?

Honestly, this is hard to tell because there are just none for sale. You can’t just go to your local pet shop and buy an aardvark. As I know there are also no breeders within the US.

I can imagine the price would be very high when you pay someone to bring you an aardvark. Most likely you will also need contacts into circles of pet traders and I bet you don’t want to get in touch with such people.

However, the real costs would only begin to start after you made your purchase. Setting up the enclosure, buying food, and veterinarian care do cost a lot of money. Often they are underestimated by soon-to-be pet owners.

The worst thing that can happen is, that you would have to give your pet away to an animal shelter because you can’t afford to keep it.